Message from the Summer Research Opportunities Program Directors in honor of Juneteenth
The events over the last few weeks following the unjustified death of George Floyd are yet another reminder that no matter how far we have come, we have a long way to go. The struggles that people of color have faced in this country is not new, but we are at a time when again, awareness is heightened and we have a real opportunity to fully acknowledge the past and influence change.
We can make these important times influence our future.
It is clear we must live in an era where inclusion, equality, and diversity define our strength. Help think of ways to incorporate these ideals into our training program, our campus, and even our daily lives. For all of us, careers in science can be so much richer if everyone who is interested in this path is included, when we can be part of a diverse community of scientists learning from each other. We have so much to gain by treating each other with equality, understanding, and compassion.
Don’t let these be just words we say. BLM
We have compiled a listing of readings and events to enable one to learn more about how diversity in the sciences has led to some great breakthroughs. Science has many champions who have contributed to the improvement of everyday lives; however, some have done it by doing more than discoveries alone. They have contributed to the betterment of society by crusading for equality, breaking barriers, and overcoming odds. While this is not required reading, we hope that you will look over these names and articles to find a story, a message, or otherwise inspiration as you move forward with your upcoming careers.
Below is a listing of some scientists who broke the stereotype of what a scientist looks like. For further examples, one can see a listing that PBS made of influential African American scientists.
George Washington Carver (1860’s-1943) The prominence of George Washington Carver (who never received a doctorate) cannot be understated. His contributions include those to (general) sciences, inventions, and environmentalism.
Charles Richard Drew (1904-1950) Fighting against inequalities that he himself faced, Dr. Drew’s contributions to science & medicine, specifically as it relates to blood transfusions, have life-saving effects, even to this day.
Lisa Jackson (1962- ) A chemical engineer who headed up the EPA, Lisa Jackson has used her status in both the public and private sectors to bring about positive changes for both environment and society, at large.
Katherine Johnson (1918-2020) Of “Hidden Figures” fame, Katherine Johnson is one of many members of underrepresented communities who made contributions to the Space Program, which indirectly contributed to many luxuries that we take for granted. This link will connect you with an interview done with Katherine Johnson.
Tyrone Hayes (1967- ) Dr. Hayes’ research into atrazine pitted him against industry in a whistleblower role, which demonstrated powerful opinions on both sides of the issue.
Percy Lavon Julian (1899-1975) Although the article listed references his work with glaucoma, Dr. Julian’s research is not limited there; his steroid work revolutionized the field.
Kenneth Olden (1938- ) Dr. Olden was the first African-American to lead an NIH institute, leading NIEHS from 1991-2005, where he brought his influence of both cancer research and health equity.
The scientists and stories above are, by no means, an exhaustive listing.
Beyond the telling of these stories, we also have below some resources that can contribute to further understanding of the importance of diversity within science and society.
Around Madison – the Kujichagulia Center for Self-Determination Juneteenth Event