Helen Conrad Davies, PhD, was a professor of microbiology and a vocal advocate for racial equality and women’s rights. Former students of hers have explained that she was well known for her rather unorthodox teaching methods, such as singing lyrics to different songs in order to help her students memorize complex concepts. Apart from her teaching, Dr. Davies made many valuable contributions to the field of physical biochemistry including research on cellular respiration, virulence factors, electron transfer, bacterial energetics, and the cytochrome system.
Dr. Davies was also known for her ambition, as she was the only woman in her college biology and chemistry classes. After getting her college degree, she became the first woman professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s Microbiology department, paving the way for future women professors. She greatly enjoyed studying the field of microbiology and shared her passion not only with her students and faculty, but other researchers and those within the scientific community.
Many former students of Dr. Davies explained to reporters that both her mentoring and teaching propelled them through their studies and times of hardship. Over her seven decades of writing, researching, and teaching, Davies contributed much to the STEM community and leaves a lasting legacy.