Celebrating Diversity in the STEM Field

Celebrating Diversity in the STEM Field 

Natural sciences  have the power to inspire and uplift us, and it is through the work of biologists, chemists, physicists, botanists, mathematicians, and other innovators that we can better understand and appreciate the world around us. 

These individuals dedicate their lives to science by  exploring  new frontiers, researching the unknown, and innovating technology. At Positive Adventures, we are proud to celebrate their achievements and contributions. We believe it is essential to recognize and celebrate the contributions of scientists of color.

Despite facing constant barriers and obstacles, professionals of color in STEM have strived to  persevere and continue to make significant contributions to their respective fields. Their stories are a testament to the strength, determination, and passion that drives them to impact the world positively. 

Aside from being innovators in their fields, this group of individuals serve as role models for others who aspire to make a difference in the world.

Some notable figures include:

George Washington Carver

Born into slavery during the final year of the Civil War, George Washington Carver became one of the most renowned scientists of the early 20th century through his work in botany and agricultural science. After earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Iowa State University, Carver was hired to lead the agricultural department at the Tuskegee Institute, a preeminent historically Black university. Carver developed various crop diversification methods and cash crop alternatives that helped many formerly enslaved sharecroppers in the South.

Alice Ball

Alice Ball was a chemist who developed the first effective treatment against Hansen’s disease, commonly known as leprosy. She was the first woman and first African American to earn a master’s degree at the University of Hawaii (UH), as well as the first woman faculty member in the UH chemistry department. Ball initially developed a successful treatment for Hansen’s disease but could not publish her findings before her untimely death at 24. A colleague took credit for Ball’s work before her original research was discovered in the UH archives in the 1970s. In 2000, the university dedicated a plaque to Ball, and Hawaii declared February 29 a state holiday to commemorate her and her work.

Percy Lavon Julian

Percy Lavon Julian is widely regarded as one of the most influential chemists in U.S. history due to his research in chemical synthesis, which led to drug treatments for arthritis and glaucoma. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna in Austria after facing years of educational discrimination in the U.S. Julian was the first person to synthesize progesterone and testosterone on a large scale, resulting in the creation of cortisone, birth control pills, and corticosteroids. In 1973, he became the first Black chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. 

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was one of the first Black women to work for NASA and a renowned mathematician who played a vital role in the agency’s initial space flights. After becoming the first Black woman to attend graduate school at West Virginia University, Johnson worked at NASA calculating launch windows, emergency return paths, and trajectories for the Apollo Moon landing and other early space flights. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and was one of the biographical subjects of the 2016 book and film Hidden Figures.

Gladys West

Gladys West is a mathematician whose research was integral to the creation of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Throughout her career, she worked on mathematical modeling of the Earth’s shape and helped develop early satellites, both of which were crucial elements in the creation of GPS navigation. West holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Virginia State University, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Oklahoma, and a Ph.D. in public administration from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, which she earned after her retirement. West was inducted into the U.S. Air Force Hall of Fame in 2018.

These are just a few examples of the many scientists of color who have positively impacted the world. Their work is a reminder that we all have the power to make a difference and that it is through collective efforts that we can grow better to understand our natural world. 

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