From the modern day bloodmobile to the effective treatment of leprosy, African Americans have made vital contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Five African American trailblazers in the STEM fields

By: USFSM

Posted: February 06, 2018

Five African American trailblazers in the STEM fields

From the modern day bloodmobile to the effective treatment of leprosy, African Americans have made vital contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In celebration of Black History Month, we highlighted a few of these outstanding individuals.

    • Alice Augusta Ball was the first woman and the first African American to receive a Master’s Degree from the University of Hawaii. She is credited with the development of an injectable oil extract that was used as an effective treatment for leprosy until the 1940s, known as the “Ball Method.” She also went on to become the first female chemistry professor at her alma mater. Talk about girl power!

    • Today’s blood banks can largely be credited to Charles Richard Drew, a young doctor responsible for perfecting the processes of collecting and storing plasma in the late 1940s. He is also responsible for introducing “bloodmobiles” to the world, vehicles designed to refrigerate and transfer blood. Remember Dr. Drew the next time you claim your free t-shirt for donating on your college campus.
    • Madam C.J. Walker is considered a legend in the African American cosmetics and hair-care industry. She started her career selling her own hair-growth formula designed for women of color. Born Sarah Breedlove, she changed her name to Madam C.J. Walker as she launched her own salons, beauty schools and training programs across America. She went on to become one of the first self-made female millionaires in the country.

    • Have you ever felt a brief moment of fear as you tried to stop a closing elevator door? Imagine if you had to open and close them each time you got inside! Alexander Miles saved us from this fate by inventing automatic elevator doors, which prevents riders from falling down the elevator shaft (although this still happens; 173 deaths were recorded related to elevators and escalators over a 12-year period). Imagine what life was like before electric doors!

      • We are very grateful to Mark E. Dean for contributing to the modern-day desktop computer. Dean worked for IBM, where he led the team that designed the hardware that allows keyboards, modems and printers to be plugged into a computer. He also helped to develop the world’s first color computer monitor, and he holds three of IBM’s nine original patents.

     

  

We are so grateful to these amazing professionals and the many others who have advanced the science and technology fields. Interested in a career in the STEM fields? Learn more about our College of Science & Mathematics.

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