February 10, 2023

In celebration of Black History Month, we highlighted four influential Black men and women in STEM.

Presented by WET’s Diversity & Inclusion Education Committee

Dr. Marie M. Daly was a biochemist and the first Black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States.

She made several critical contributions to medicine, including the discovery of the relationship between high cholesterol and heart disease and conducting pioneering research into the effects of cigarette smoke on the lungs. Her work created a new understanding of how food, diet, and lifestyle can affect heart health.

In addition to her research, Daly taught biochemistry courses, advocated for getting Black students enrolled in medical schools and graduate science programs, and started a scholarship for minority students to study science at Queens College in New York.


A&E Networks Television. (2021, January 12). Marie M. Daly. Biography.com. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.biography.com/scientist/marie-m-daly

About The Author Shaunaupp Mother, Author, A. T., & Shaunaupp. (2019, April 17). On this day in women’s history: Marie M. Daly was born. She Made History. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from http://shemadehistory.com/her-story-marie-m-daly/

Black innovators in STEM who changed the world. Orlando Science Center. (2021, May 14). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.osc.org/black-innovators-in-stem-who-changed-the-world

Burrows, T. (1960). Marie Maynard Daly working in her lab. photograph.

Daly, Marie M. Digital Commons @ RU. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://digitalcommons.rockefeller.edu/scientific-staff/10/

Marie Maynard Daly. Science History Institute. (2020, June 15). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.sciencehistory.org/historical-profile/marie-maynard-daly

Satyanarayana, M., Watson, M.-A., St. Fleur, N., & Boyd, D. (n.d.). Black chemists you should know about. Cen.acs.org. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://cen.acs.org/people/profiles/Six-black-chemists-should-know/97/web/2019/02

Dr. Warren Washington is a distinguished climate scientist and former chair of the National Science Board.

After completing his Ph.D. in meteorology, he became a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). While there, he developed one of the first atmospheric computer models of Earth’s climate. He went on to become the head of NCAR’s Climate Change Research Section.

Washington has been recognized as an expert in atmospheric science, climate research, and the computer modeling of these, receiving multiple presidential appointments to serve on committees, being elected chair of the National Science Board in 2002 and 2004, and receiving numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science in 2009.


Applewhite, J. S. (n.d.). President Obama presented Warren Washington with the National Medal of Science at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010. . photograph.

Black innovators in STEM who changed the world. Orlando Science Center. (2021, May 14). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.osc.org/black-innovators-in-stem-who-changed-the-world/

Climate change: What Nobel prize winner dr. Warren Washington says. Bonfils. (2020, January 28). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://bonfils-stantonfoundation.org/warren-washington-climate-change/

Dr. Warren Washington. (n.d.). photograph.

National Science Foundation – Where Discoveries Begin. The National Medal of Science 50th Anniversary | National Science Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://bit.ly/3tOcRgq

Warren Morton Washington’s biography. The HistoryMakers. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/warren-morton-washington-41

Williams, A. (2019, July 10). Dr. Warren Washington, the American Meteorological Society’s 1st Black president, was a pioneer in atmospheric computer modeling. AccuWeather. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/dr-warren-washington-the-american-meteorological-societys-1st-black-president-was-a-pioneer-in-atmospheric-computer-modeling/336466

George Washington Carver, arguably the most famous Black scientist and inventor, was born into slavery.

He was accepted into Highland College in Kansas, but ultimately denied admission due to his race. He went on to be the first Black student at Iowa State Agricultural College, where he became known as a brilliant botanist (a scientist who studies plants). He is best known for coming up with over 100 uses for the peanut.

In addition, as the head of the Tuskegee Institute’s agricultural department, he also helped develop crops and agricultural methods that stabilized the livelihoods of many former slaves. He also contributed greatly to the education of Black Americans in universities and through mobile classrooms that brought lessons to farmers.


Edwards, P. (2015, July 13). George Washington Carver cared about sustainable farming before it was cool. Vox. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.vox.com/2015/7/13/8948477/george-washington-carver

George Washington Carver’s Graduation Photo from Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm, 1893. (1883). Photograph. Retrieved from https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-collections/artifact/164615/

Georgewashingtoncarver904.jpg. (n.d.). Photograph. Retrieved from https://blackinventor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/georgewashingtoncarver904.jpg

History.com Editors. (2009, October 27). George Washington Carver. History.com. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/george-washington-carver

Https://alabamanewscenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/3c14302v-edited.jpg. (n.d.). photograph.

Kettler, S. (2021, January 11). 7 facts on George Washington Carver. Biography.com. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.biography.com/news/george-washington-carver-facts-national-peanut-month

Orlando Science Center . (2021, May 14). Black innovators in STEM who changed the world. Orlando Science Center. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.osc.org/black-innovators-in-stem-who-changed-the-world/

Snapshot biography of agricultural scientist George Washington Carver. Historical Snapshots. (2021, December 14). Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://historicalsnaps.com/2020/11/19/a-snapshot-biography-of-agricultural-scientist-george-washington-carver/

Katherine Johnson was one of the famous Hidden Figures who worked at NASA and made the 1969 moon landing possible.

After working as a teacher in public schools, she joined NASA (then NACA) as a research mathematician in the Langley laboratory’s all-Black West Area Computing section. There, she analyzed data from flight tests and went onto do trajectory analysis for the first human spaceflight. In 1962, she used geometry for space travel and figured out the paths for spacecraft to orbit around Earth and land on the Moon. This led to an astronaut successfully orbiting around the Earth for the first time.

She continued to work for NASA, with her calculations helping to send astronauts to the Moon and back. When asked to name her greatest contribution to space exploration, she chose her calculations that helped synch Project Apollo’s Lunar Module with the lunar-orbiting Command and Service Module.


35 Katherine Johnson quotes from the famous NASA mathematician. Free Ideas For Family Fun        & Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://kidadl.com/articles/katherine-johnson-quotes-from-the-famous-nasa-mathematician

Black innovators in STEM who changed the world. Orlando Science Center. (2021, May 14). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.osc.org/black-innovators-in-stem-who-changed-the-world

Encyclopedia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Katherine Johnson. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Katherine-Johnson-mathematician

Guardian News and Media. (2020, February 24). Katherine Johnson, NASA mathematician portrayed in hidden figures, dies at 101. The Guardian. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/feb/24/katherine-johnson-nasa-mathematician-hidden-figures-dies-101

Smith, Y. (2015, November 20). Katherine Johnson: The girl who loved to count. NASA. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.nasa.gov/feature/katherine-johnson-the-girl-who-loved-to-count

Vcorless. (2020, May 27). Pioneers in science: Katherine Johnson. Advanced Science News. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.advancedsciencenews.com/pioneers-in-science-katherine-johnson/