Celebrating Pioneering Women In Science

Hidden no more! AWIS celebrates the many achievements women scientists have made. 

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Despite severe gender bias, these bold and brilliant women paved the way for future generations. Help us share their accomplishments so they too can be household names like Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking. Be sure to check back later, we will continue to add to this list. If you want to suggest someone, please email awis@awis.org.
Caroline Still Anderson
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Caroline Still Anderson, M.D.
Physician

Dr. Caroline Still Anderson was a physician dedicated to education and improving the social and political conditions for other African-Americans.
June Bacon-Bercey
Source: Maurice Seymour, Courtesy Dail St. Claire
June Bacon-Bercey
Meterologist

June Bacon-Bercey was an on-air meteorologist and the first African-American to earn an undergraduate degree in meteorology from UCLA.
Alice Ball
Photo: Public Domain
Alice Ball
Chemistry

Alice Ball, a chemist, developed the first successful treatment for Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy.
Dr. Patricia Bath
Photo credit: Jemal Countess
Dr. Patricia Bath, PhD
Chemist

Dr. Patricia Bath is an ophthalmologist known for inventing the Laserphaco Probe, a tool used in cataract surgery, and the first Black female doctor to receive a medical patent.
Bessie Blount
Bessie Blount
Physical Therapist

Bessie Blount was a physical therapist and inventor that created a medical device that could feed patients. After she graduated, she helped World War II veteran amputees regain mobility.
Marie Van Brittan Brown Nurse and Inventor
Source: New York Times / Redux
Marie Van Brittan Brown
Nursing

Marie Van Brittan Brown was an African American woman who contributed her livelihood to the invention of the first home security system. She was born in 1922 in Queens, New York, and saw the importance of protection in her area - while being a nurse, and living home alone.
Beth Brown
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Beth Brown, PhD
Astrophysicist

Dr. Beth Brown was an American astrophysicist and the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Alexa Canady
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Alexa Canady, PhD
Neurosurgeon

Dr. Alexa Canady is the first African-American woman to become a neurosurgeon and has helped thousands of pediatric patients over her 31-year career.
Dr. May Edward Chinn
Source: Changing the Face of Medicine
Dr. May Edward Chinn, PhD
Physician

Dr. May Edward Chinn was a physician who advocated for new cancer detection methods and was the first black woman to hold an internship at Harlem Hospital.
Dr. Gloria Twine Chisum
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Gloria Twine Chisum, PhD
Psychologist

Dr. Gloria Twine Chisum is an experimental psychologist known for creating protective eyewear for pilots suitable for extreme conditions.
Yvonne Y. Clark
Yvonne Y. Clark
Engineering

Yvonne Y. Clark was the first woman to receive a mechanical engineering degree from Howard University.
Marian Croak, PhD
Marian Croak, PhD
Engineering

Marian Croak, PhD, developed the Voice Over Internet Protocols (VoIP) technology.
Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler
Source: Public Domain
Rebecca Lee Crumpler
Physician

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African American woman to obtain an M.D. degree and worked as a nurse in Boston, Massachusetts.
Dr. Marie Maynard Daly
Source: Queens College Silhouette Yearbook 1942
Marie Maynard Daly, PhD
Biochemist

Dr. Marie Daly was the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in chemistry in the United States. She left a lasting legacy by a scholarship fund for minority students in science programs.
Annie Easley
Source: NASA
Annie Easley
Mathematician and Computer Scientist

Annie Easley, an African American mathematician, and computer scientist was born in April 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her entire childhood was spent dreaming of becoming a nurse, but once she attended high school, she slowly switched her interest to pharmacy.
Dr. Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee, PhD
Physician

Dr. Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee was a physician who established the Southeast Neighborhood House to give black communities greater access to healthcare.
Dijanna Figueroa
Source:
Dijanna Figueroa, PhD
Marine Scientist

Dr. Dijanna Figueroa, the “Deep Ocean Doctor,” is a marine scientist and educator who works extensively to make STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) education more accessible to all children. In 2005, she was featured in James Cameron’s Aliens of the Deep, a documentary that explores the Mid-Ocean Ridge. She has also appeared on […]
Mary Elliott Hill
Source: Wikipedia
Mary Elliott Hill
Chemist

Mary Elliott Hill was an organic and analytical chemist who helped develop ketene synthesis, a process that aids in the development of plastics.
Dr. Jane Hinton
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Jane Hinton, PhD
Veterinarian

Dr. Jane Hinton was a veterinarian who researched bacterial resistance. She was one of the first African-American veterinarians to establish her own practice in Massachusetts.
Ayanna Howard, PhD
Photo: Ohio State University
Ayanna Howard, PhD
Engineering

Ayanna Howard is an American roboticist, entrepreneur, and educator.
Mary Jackson
Aeronautical Engineer

Mary Jackson became NASA's first African American female engineer in 1958.
Dr. Shirley Jackson
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Shirley Jackson, PhD
Physicist

Dr. Shirley Jackson is a theoretical physicist and the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). In 2016, she was awarded the National Medal of Science for her work in physics and science-rooted public policy.
Mae Jemison
Source: NASA
Dr. Mae C. Jemison, PhD
Physician

Dr. Jemison is a doctor and astronaut who was the first African American woman to travel into outer space. Currently, she is leading the 100 Year Starship Project.
Katherine Johnson
Source: NASA
Katherine Johnson
Mathematician

Katherine Johnson was a NASA mathematician who helped calculate the flight path for NASA’s first manned space mission in 1962. Her life and career was depicted in the movie "Hidden Figures."
Dr. Anna Johnson Julian
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Anna Johnson Julian, PhD
Sociologist

Dr. Anna Johnson Julian was the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Angie Turner King
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Angie Turner King, PhD
Chemist

Angie King was an African American chemist, mathematician, and educator. After her retirement, she received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.
Dorothy Lavina
Dorothy Lavinia Brown
Surgeon

Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown was the first African American female surgeon in the South. Throughout her lifetime, she continued to push limits when she became the first African American woman to serve in the Tennessee state legislature.
Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence, PhD
Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst

Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence became the first African-American woman to practice psychoanalysis in the United States. She remained devoted to assisting underprivileged children throughout her career.
Dr. Ruth Smith Lloyd
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Ruth Smith Lloyd, PhD
Anatomist

Dr. Ruth Lloyd was the first African American woman to acquire her doctorate degree in Anatomy, and an active member of the American Association of Anatomists.
Susan McKinney-Steward
Dr. Susan McKinney-Steward, PhD
Physician

Dr. Susan McKinney-Steward was the third black woman physician in the United States and the first in New York.
ruth ella moore
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Ruth Ella Moore, PhD
Microbiologist

Dr. Ruth Ella Moore was known as the first African American woman in the United States who acquired a PhD in natural sciences.
Dr. Joan Murrell Owens
Photo: Public Domain
Dr. Joan Murrell Owens, PhD
Marine Biologist

Dr. Joan Murrell Owens was a marine biologist who classified the genus of Rhombopsammia, a type of button corals and three new species.
Carolyn Parker
Photo: Public Domain
Carolyn Parker
Physicist

Carolyn Parker was the first African American to earn a postgraduate degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Audrey Penn
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Audrey Shields Penn, PhD
Neurologist

Dr. Audrey Shields Penn is the first African-American woman to become acting director of a branch of the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Jessie Isabelle Price
Photo: Public Domain
Dr. Jessie Isabelle Price, PhD
Microbiologist

Dr. Jessie Isabelle Price was a pioneering veterinary microbiologist known for creating methods to control microbial diseases in waterfowl.
Inez Beverly Prosser
Photo: Public Domain
Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser, PhD
Psychologist

Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser was the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and assisted black students with attaining loans and funds for college.
Mary Logan Reddick
Source: Harvard University Library
Dr. Mary Logan Reddick, PhD
Biologist

Dr. Mary Logan Reddick contributed to the scientific understanding of embryonic development through her studies on chicken embryos.
Marguerite Thomas Williams
Source: University of the Disctrict of Columbia
Dr. Marguerite Thomas Williams, PhD
Geologist

Dr. Marguerite Thomas Williams was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in geology. She taught at Miner Teachers College and Howard University.
Dr. Glady's West
Dr. Gladys West, PhD
Mathematician

Dr. Gladys West is a mathematician who helped develop the Global Positioning System (GPS).
Jane Cook Wright
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Jane Cook Wright, PhD
Surgeon and Cancer Researcher

Dr. Wright was a surgeon and cancer researcher who became the first African American woman to become an associate dean of a medical institution.
Josephine Silone Yates
Source: Library Of Congress
Josephine Silone Yates
Educator

Josephine Silone Yates was a science educator who was active in women’s and civil rights organizations, traveling across the country to deliver speeches.