In honor of Black History Month, I very much wanted to profile two wonderful Black American scientists who have greatly contributed to the advancement of humanity’s health and well-being and to our understanding of the universe!
I’m speaking of none other than Progressive Pioneers Doctors Marie M. Daly and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Let’s take a look into the lives of these great Americans who make us all proud—for we are all one color: beautiful.
Dr. Marie Daly
STEM Revolution of Equal Opportunity
When the 45th president signed into law the Hidden Figures Act honoring the four African‐American women who were instrumental in the success of NASA’s space race to the moon, we should not forget other accomplished women who have also contributed our nation’s scientific knowledge. One such venerated pioneer is Dr. Marie Maynard Daly.
Dr. Daly was born in Queens, NY on April 16, 1921. She was the daughter of Ivan Daly (an immigrant from the British West Indies) and Helen Page of Washington DC. Her parents settled in the New York City area where Mr. Daly attended Cornell University in pursuit of a chemistry degree.
Like her father, Dr. Marie Daly also chose to pursue a career in chemistry. She was spurred on by her grandfather’s extensive library of books about scientists and their scientific achievements.
Dr. Daly graduated from Queens College magna cum laude with a BA in Chemistry.
Due to labor shortages and the need for scientists during World War II, she was able to garner fellowships to study at both New York and Columbia Universities earning her a master’s and a Ph.D. (respectively).
Daly’s first major publication was her thesis on the formation of pancreatic amylase on corn starch.
From there, her scientific career soared. She was awarded a grant from the American Cancer Society to conduct post‐ doctoral research. She worked at the Rockefeller Institute studying the cell nucleus and its constituents. She was a teaching fellow at Columbia and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
In 1975, she was one of 30 minority women scientists to attend a conference sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This led to a ground-breaking report on the challenges facing minority women in the STEM fields titled The Double Bind: The Price of Being a Minority Woman in Science (1976).
Dr. Daly was also a member of the prestigious board of governors of the New York Academy of Sciences. Her additional fellowships included the American Cancer Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, New York Academy of Sciences, and the Council of Arteriosclerosis of the American Heart Association.
Her decades‐spanning work covered research on histones (cell nuclear proteins), proteins, cholesterol and hypertension, and creatine. Her ground‐breaking research led to our current understanding of how factors such as diet are a major contributor to cardiac and circulatory health problems. She was the first to establish a link between hypertension and atherosclerosis. Dr. Daly was also instrumental in determining the benefits of creatine in muscle systems—something that every modern‐day athlete uses as part of their intensive training and recovery programs.
Courage is like — it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: you get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.Dr. Marie M. Daly
Dr. Marie Daly died on October 28, 2003, but she leaves behind a distinguished career in STEM, and serves as a great role model for generations of all young women who want to pursue the sciences—which is why I am singing about her progressive pioneering accomplishments here.
She too deserves a Congressional Gold Medal!
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Keeper of the COSMOS for Our Time
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a national treasure. First and foremost, he is an Astrophysicist. He holds 20 honorary doctorates (including one from Digital Batman’s alma mater, UMass Amherst). He is the recipient of 20 major awards and honors, including:
- NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal (2004)
- Issac Asimov Award (2009)
- Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album (2017)
- Fifty Most Important African- Americans in Research Science (2004)
- Discover Magazine’s The 10 Most Influential People in Science (2008)
- And many more!
He is the author of 30 books and research publications on the sciences, including the fanciful cosmic tale Merlin’s Tour of the Universe.
His public appearances are extensive, including the PBS series NOVA, National Geographic’s StarTalk and MARS, WB/DC’s movie Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, TV’s Big Bang Theory and Stargate Atlantis; and he hosted COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey (airing on FOX in 2014) to name a few.
It is this last one that is really notable. The late great astrophysicist Carl Sagan hosted the original PBS COSMOS: A Personal Voyage back in 1980. It was around this time that Dr. Tyson, as a young aspiring scientist, met Carl Sagan in person and even had dinner with him at Sagan’s house. And in an amazing twist of fate Dr. Tyson would host the follow-up TV series 34 years later!
Neil deGrasse Tyson was born on October 5th, 1958 in New York City. He attended Harvard University (BA), the University of Texas at Austin (MA), and Columbia University (Ph.D.). And he was postdoctoral associate at Princeton University from 1991–1994.
He is married to Alice Young, with whom they have two children.
Dr. Tyson is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City. The center is part of the American Museum of Natural History.
Finally, Dr. Tyson is an advocate for expanding NASA. For which the campaign Penny4NASA was founded in 2012.
The most powerful agency on the dreams of a nation is currently underfunded to do what it needs to be doing. Right now, NASA’s annual budget is half a penny on your tax dollar. For twice that—a penny on a dollar—we can transform the country from a sullen, dispirited nation, weary of economic struggle, to one where it has reclaimed its 20th century birthright to dream of tomorrow.”Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
And finally, Dr. Tyson is an avid wine enthusiast, which his extensive wine collection was featured in the May 2000 issue of the Wine Spectator and the Spring 2005 issue of The World of Fine Wine.
It should also be noted that Dr. Tyson’s Rose Center will also be contributing technology (an image filtering mask) to the soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Dr. Tyson can currently be seen hosting a new and mesmerizing follow-up COSMOS series on Disney+ called COSMOS: Possible Worlds.
This great woman and this great man shows us all how black is truly beautiful and that we all need to live together in peace and love.
Happy African American Month to all my brothers and sisters!
You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.Dr. Martin Luther King
Only in the darkness can you see the stars.Dr. Martin Luther King