Celebrating Our History in the Chemical Sciences
Preface The history of the founding of NOBCChE is a record of our past. It is a record of how a group of individual African-American chemists and chemical engineers came together to create an organization to promote the professional advancement and development of Black chemists and chemical engineers in this country. The foundation of NOBCChE is based on self-reliance, which reflects the high value placed upon self reliance by the African-American community. It is also a value that links generations of African-American chemists and chemical engineers together through time. Knowing this history is what drives our future and what we do to secure that future. Knowing this history is what makes me proud of how far we have traveled as an organization and excited about what lies ahead. Recently, I attended a workshop where a facilitator conducted an interesting exercise. The facilitator showed a picture of a famous White American chemist. There was no name or caption associated with the picture. The group was asked to identify the chemist and his contributions. Among the workshop participants, there was great enthusiasm demonstrated to be the first to provide the answer. The facilitator then showed a picture of a famous African-American chemist and asked the group to identify this individual along with his contributions. There was silence. Although I found this surprising, it reaffirms why an organization like NOBCChE is important. It also articulated why it is important that NOBCChE should now take the lead to chronicle the history of African-American chemists and chemical engineers. That history should be easily accessible to all. The early chemistry pioneers have a story to tell through their history. It is important that these stories be kept alive and for us to take responsibility for preserving that history. African-Americans have a rich heritage in the chemical sciences. It is one of achievement and success. When we look at the achievements of George Washington Carver, Percy Julian, Marie Maynard-Daly, Henry Hill, Lincoln Hawkins, Jeannie Patrick, Henry McBay, William Jackson and Isiah Warner, to name a few, we understand something about the meaning of opportunity, about hard work, sacrifice, determination, and the struggles to achieve that have been endured. It is an inspiring legacy of achievement for our young to also see, with a lesson that they too can contribute to our legacy. More importantly, knowing our history teaches an important lesson not to take for granted what we have today. Joseph Francisco, PhD William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Science & Chemistry Purdue University Lafayette, Indiana
INTRODUCTION The rich history of underrepresented minorities (URMs) in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields has been examined by many experts addressing the importance of broadening participation in the STEM areas.1,2 Early books by Harry Washington Greene3 and James M. Jay4 provide an invaluable resource of historical information on the early African American STEM pioneers. Although Greene’s book covered all disciplines, he included brief profiles of over 100 PhD STEM researchers from 1869-1943. Jay’s book focused solely on the STEM fields from 1869-1969 and included two chapters focusing on the chemical sciences and African American female PhDs. Jay’s study identified 186 chemists highlighting Saint Elmo Brady (1916, University of Illinois), Edward Chandler (1917, University of Illinois), and Marie M. Daly (1947, Columbia University). Considering there is a 30-year gap between the accomplishments of Dr. Brady and Dr. Daly, this clearly illustrates the limited opportunities for women in the sciences. In 1995, the invaluable website “Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences” was developed by Mitchell Brown and profiled many African Americans in several STEM fields.5 Brown’s efforts include data on chemistry PhD production of African Americans from 1983-2000, with the highest number of graduates (46) in 1999. Brown’s work also includes a section on engineers, but to date profiles one chemical engineer, Virgil Garnett Trice, Jr. Ten years after Brown’s website was published, Willie Pearson, Jr. published, “Beyond Small Numbers: Voices of African American PhD Chemists,” which really discusses two interrelated stories—the historical growth of the U.S. chemical industry and the emergence of the African American Ph.D. chemist.6 In order to fully understand and appreciate the trails and tribulations of the African American Ph.D. chemist, it is equally important to gain a
clear understanding of the growth of the U.S. chemical industry, and the blatant racism that our scientific pioneers faced. Pearson’s book focuses on interviews with 44 African American Ph.D. chemists conducted from 1994-1995. The interviewees ranged in age from 31-86, and were classified in cohorts I, II and III. Pearson begins with an interesting discussion focusing on World War I, the dominance of Germany within the chemical industry, and the pivotal role ACS (American Chemical Society) played in encouraging U.S. chemical companies to expand production of various chemicals. Pearson continues with an enlightening overview of World War II, the Manhattan Project, and new employment opportunities for African American scientists. Pearson states, “With the United States’ entry into World War II, the demand for scientists and engineers escalated. This is the first significant window of opportunity for African Americans to secure employment as scientists and engineers in industrial and governmental laboratories.” Pearson later discusses the post WWII era, the Civil Rights Movement, the increased production of chemistry degrees earned, and the pivotal role of HBCUs in the training of African American Ph.D. chemists. Recent statistics indicate that 1,425 U.S. citizens earned PhDs in chemistry and chemical engineering related fields in 2005—only 46 (3.2%) were earned by African Americans.7 Although these statistics are disheartening, URMs are making slow progress within the chemical sciences.8,9 Moreover, majority institutions such as Purdue University and Louisiana State University (LSU) produce significant numbers of minority PhD chemists through expanded outreach efforts with minority serving institutions (MSIs).10,11 From 2001-2005, Purdue and LSU produced 40 URM chemistry PhDs.12 Other institutions such as Iowa State University had tremendous success through the efforts of Professor Henry Gilman in the 1950s and 1960s recruiting and retaining African American students within the 3
Department of Chemistry at Iowa State. Gilman’s efforts began in the 1930s and established strong relationships with Fisk University and Tuskegee University for many years.13 Historically, URM contributions to the chemical sciences are often overlooked or ignored. Here, we wish to celebrate the pioneers of the past and celebrate the rising stars of the future. This report provides a brief history of African American trailblazers within the chemical sciences. References Cited 1. Minorities in Science ’93. Trying to Change the Face of Science (1993). Science 262, 1089-131. 2. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Standing Our Ground. A Guidebook for STEM Educators in the Post-Michigan Era, S.M. Malcom, D.E. Chubin, and J.K. Jesse (Washington, DC 2004). 3. Holders of Doctorates Among American Negroes: An Educational and Social Study of Negroes Who Have Earned Doctoral Degrees in Course, 18761943. Harry Washington Greene. (Boston, MA: Meador Publishing Co), 1946. 4. Negroes in Science: Natural Science Doctorates, 1876-1969. James M. Jay. (Detroit, MI: Balamp Publishing Co), 1971. 5. Mitchell C. Brown, The Faces of Science: African Americans in Science, https://webfiles.uci.edu/mcbrown/displa y/faces.html (accessed October 2006). 6. Beyond Small Numbers: Voices of African American PhD Chemists, Willie Pearson, Jr. (Stamford, Connecticut: JAI Press Inc.), 2005. 7. National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resource Statistics, U.S. Doctorates in the 20th Century, NSF 06319, Lori Thurgood, Mary J. Golladay, and Susan T. Hill (Arlington, VA 2006).
8. Collins, S.N.; Nelson, D. “A Closer Look: 2003 Minority Chemistry PhDs,” NOBCChE News OnLine, 2005, 35(4), 23. 9. Collins, S.N.; Lichter, R. “Touring the Changing Chemistry Landscape: Who’s Driving?” NOBCChE News, 2005, 35(1), 26-28. 10. Recruit, Retain, Release! Purdue’s Chemistry Success. NOBCChE News OnLine, 2006,36(3), 19-21. 11. What is Louisiana State University Doing Right? Collins, S.N.; Stanley, G.; Warner, I.M.;Watkins, S.F. Chem. Eng. News, 2001, 79(50), 39-42. 12. NSF WebCaspar Database System. http://webcaspar.nsf.gov/index.jsp (accessed 12/18/2006). 13. Collins, S.N. “The Gilman Pipeline: A Historical Perspective of African American Ph.D. Chemists from Iowa State University,” In Chemistry at Iowa State: Some Historical Accounts of the Early Years, Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University, 2006, 126-148.
NOBCChE Founder— Professor William M. Jackson Born and raised in Alabama, Professor William M. Jackson had no plans to major in chemistry as an undergraduate student at Morehouse College. In fact, he wanted to major in mathematics. “I first took chemistry in college from Dr. Henry C. McBay at Morehouse. I only spent two years in high school, so I did not have any chemistry courses. When I went to college, I intended to major in math, but that was changed by Dr. McBay,” he said. As a sophomore chemistry major at Morehouse College, Professor Jackson received his first real taste of chemistry research. “I had finished all of the unknowns in my Quantitative Analysis course except brass one month before the class was over, and I asked if I could use polargraphy to do it,” he says. He completed this research effort under the direction of Professor Waldock, who taught physical chemistry at Morehouse. After earning his B.S. degree in chemistry from Morehouse in 1956, Professor Jackson earned a PhD in physical chemistry from The Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) in 1961. He remained in the Washington, DC area working in industry and the federal government. His first position was as a Research Scientist with the Martin-Marietta Company of Baltimore (1961-63). That was followed by a National Academy of Sciences National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associate at the National Bureau of Standards (currently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST) from 1963-64, in Washington, D.C., then from 1964-69 as a Staff Chemist; and later a Staff Scientist (1969-74) at NASA’s Goodard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. While on leave of absence from Goddard, he started his academic career as a visting associate professor in the physics department at the University of Pittsburgh (1969-70). His academic career began in earnest with a faculty appointment as a Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Howard University in 1974. During
his tenure at Howard University, Professor Jackson focused on laser chemistry and astrochemistry research, which involved astronomy, physics and chemistry. Professor Jackson has always believed that chemistry was multidisciplinary, but recognizes that there is more emphasis on the interdisciplinary aspects of science today than in the past. “This is good for science because that is where the cutting edge problems are,” says Professor Jackson. Career Highlights of Professor William Jackson: 1956 - B.S. Chemistry, Morehouse College 1961 - PhD, Physical Chemistry, The Catholic University of America 1972 - The NOBCChE Organization Established 1974 - Joined the Department of Chemistry at Howard University 1985 - Honored with NOBCChE’s Percy Julian Award 1985 - Joined the Department of Chemistry at University of California, Davis 2006 – Distinguished Research Professor, UCDavis
In 1985, he accepted a faculty position as a Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Davis. While a faculty member at UCDavis, Professor Jackson served as chair of the chemistry department and associate dean in the College of Letters and Sciences and ultimately became a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. Although he is now officially retired from UCDavis, he now holds the title Distinguished Research Professor. Over the course of his remarkable career in industry, government and academia, Professor Jackson published more than 160 peer-reviewed articles in various journals including the Journal of Chemical Physics, Applied Optics, Science and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. However, he provides critical advice to minorities that wish to pursue a career in academia. “You should try to get a postdoc with the best person you can in the field that you are interested in. During your postdoc, you should try to get as many publications as you can because publications are the currency of science. More importantly, you should actively find out how your adviser writes papers and proposals. You should write at least the first draft of the papers to get practice in doing this.” But, Professor Jackson believes that pursuing
alternative careers such as science policy and patent law are great career paths because it shows the versatility of a chemistry degree. Professor Jackson has many proud achievements including, “the first use of a tunable laser to study free radicals from photo-dissociation and the first determination of the radiative lifetimes of individual rotational levels of a free radical that demonstrated how two electronic states perturb each other, and the first observation of a comet with a satellite,” he says. As one of the seven founders of NOBCChE in 1972, this pioneer emphasizes that NOBCChE was established to be the voice of the African American chemist and chemical engineer. “It was during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, and we knew that ACS was not speaking for the African American chemist. We felt that NOBCChE could effectively speak to the nation about our views.”
Chemical Information—Mr. Isom Harrison As a high school senior, Mr. Isom Harrison became hooked on the subject of chemistry after literally playing with matches! “I took my first chemistry course during my junior year in high school. There were several of us who did very well in the class. The instructor created a special chemistry class for us during our senior year, and gave us some interesting experiments to do. The clincher for me was when I made matches that I was able to strike! It may sound corny, but I was hooked,” he says laughing. I see chemistry playing a vital role in every area of science, including information science and technology. --Mr. Isom Harrison
Mr. Harrison earned his B.S. degree in chemistry (1970) from Rust College, an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) in Holly Springs, Mississippi. In 1973, he joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, CA) as a Chemical Information Specialist following the “alternative career pathway” before going into
management. As a Chemical Information Specialist, he would conduct literature reviews, patent searches, and perform structure searches. In 1978, Mr. Harrison earned an MS degree in organic chemistry from the University of the Pacific located in Stockton, CA. Mr. Harrison is now the Library Division Leader at LLNL.
Career Highlights of Mr. Isom Harrison: 1970 B.S. Chemistry, Rust College 1973 Joined Lawrence Livermore National Lab 1978 M.S. Organic Chemistry, University of the Pacific 1984 Joined NOBCChE 1986 Joined the Clorox Company 1991 Returned to LLNL, Manager of Library 1997 NOBCChE Western Regional Chair
If you are interested in pursuing a career as a Chemical Information Specialist, Mr. Harrison offers some important tools and tips. “Make sure you have a passion for discovery. Information professionals get involved with scientists at the very early stages of the project. These specialists help to discover research (and sometimes very obscure information) that will help scientists to decide on pursuing a research project,” says Mr. Harrison. “Seek out companies such as pharmaceutical, chemical, medicinal, or government where you can use your chemical background. It is a very rewarding profession. I see chemistry playing a vital role in every area of science including information science and technology. It’s providing opportunities for chemists in other areas.” The field of chemical information actually dates back to the 18th century with the establishment of the first chemistry journal . There are several career pathways such as library science, software development, and scientific publishing. Career pathways in academia may require an MLS (Master of Library Science) degree [2,3]. Over the course of his personal and professional life, several mentors and role models helped him achieve his goals. “My number one role model was my father. He wasn’t an educated man, but he understood the importance of education. In the scientific arena, my role models are Mr. Jordan, who influenced me to go into chemistry, and Mr. George Caldwell, my undergraduate organic instructor. I have had many others since then
including Dr. Jim Porter and Dr. James (Jim) Harris.” In 1984, Mr. Harrison was introduced to NOBCChE by Dr. James Evans and has been a member of the Organization ever since. He currently serves as the Regional Chair for the “Mighty West.” Although Mr. Harrison has many accomplishments over his career with LLNL, his family is more important. “Being married for 38 years (to the same woman) and having two wonderful daughters is my proudest achievement,” he says proudly. References 1. Williams, R.V.; Bowden, M.E. “Chronology of Chemical Information Science.” http://www.chemheritage.org/explore/timeline/CHC HRON.HTM (accessed January 8, 2007). 2. Everts, S. “Dealing with Data Deluge,” Chem. Eng. News, 2006, 84(29), pp 93-94, 96. 3. Chemical Information Specialist. http://www.chemistry.org/portal/a/c/s/1/acsdisplay.ht ml?DOC=vc2%5c3wk%5cwk3_cheminfo.html (accessed January 8, 2007).
Chemical Industry--Dr. Sharon Haynie When Dr. Sharon Haynie reflects back over her stellar career, she fondly remembers the time when she first fell in love with the subject of chemistry. “I had a special pilot chemistry course in the 8th grade. I fell in love with chemistry in the 8th grade, and I could picture myself as a researcher, so I decided that I needed a doctorate to do this type of work.” And that she did! As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, she admits she was “hungry to get started in research” and pursued several different research projects focusing on organic and biochemistry. “I was fortunate and found a theoretical organic professor, Dr. Edward Thornton that allowed me to work with a graduate student, Patricia Collins. We prepared and characterized active site inhibitors against the enzyme chymotrypsin. With that organic experience behind me, it was easy to get recommendations and move on to other research projects.” For her second research project, she focused on cellulose enzymes with Dr. Arthur Humphrey, Dean of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering.
Many more deserving women of African decent had gone on before me and should have earned the opportunity that I had given to me.
--Dr. Sharon Haynie Dr. Haynie also worked under the direction of Dr. Britton Chance utilizing fluorescence spectroscopy. She says, “That was an unusual and fascinating experience as there were no undergraduates nor graduate students in Dr. Chance’s lab back then— just an army of postdocs, and I worked with one of them.” For her final research project, she worked with Dr. Phoebe Leboy—one of a handful of women science professors. “Not only did I have a nice, well-designed kinetics study, but I also gained a great political awareness from Phoebe about gender/class issues in the sciences.” After completing her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania, she pursued her doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) under the direction of Professor It was during her George M. Whitesides.1,2 graduate studies at MIT that she and fellow graduate students Joseph Francisco and Reynold Verret first learned about NOBCChE. They attended their first NOBCChE Annual Meeting (AM) in the early 1980s. During the 2006 AM held in Los Angeles, CA, Dr. Haynie was honored as the featured speaker during the Henry Hill Lecture. As a Principal Investigator with DuPont Central Research & Development, her lecture “Reflections on a Mid-Career Excursion” focused on fermentative and biocatalytic processes to prepare 1,3-propanediol. But, when asked about her proudest achievements, she can’t focus on just one. “I can’t think of an achievement. Instead my mind floats to a single moment—sitting in my research group’s (George Whitesides) GC-MS room, and typing the acknowledgement page of my thesis (September 1981). Just being in a position where I could finally write a brief acknowledgement of all those multiple influences— my family, jazz music, the MIT Black community and my ancestors. But recalling that period also has poignancy—it forces me to pause and reflect on the reality that many, many more deserving women of
African descent had gone before me and should have earned the opportunity that I had given to me.” Looking back on her own career path, Dr. Haynie, has no regrets about her choices. “There is absolutely no question that chemistry was the right “field of ministry” for me. I am fortunate (or unfortunate) to not have a broad set of talents, so I didn’t have to struggle with what to pursue. It is tempting to wish that I had done more work under the circumstances or that I had been a little wiser and approached a few situations differently. But, generally, those are only small details that I would revise.” Dr. Haynie ended the interview by providing some important words of wisdom to future generations of African American chemists and chemical engineers trying to decide on the right “field of ministry.” She replies, “Discern what moves you, distill these options and pursue what you love. More importantly, define it on the basis of creating a good life rather than a good living for yourself.” References Cited 1. Wong, Chi Huey; Haynie, Sharon L.; Whitesides, George M. J. Org. Chem, 1982, 47(27), 5416-18. 2. Nuzzo, Ralph G.; Haynie, Sharon L.; Wilson, Michael E.; Whitesides, George M. J. Org. Chem., 1981, 46(14), 2861-7.
Science Policy—Dr. Tyrone D. Mitchell When Tyrone D. Mitchell began his college education at Dillard University in New Orleans, LA, he had plans to become a medical doctor. But, that all changed when he realized that everything around us is related to chemistry. “When I started college, I wanted to be a medical doctor, so naturally I took biology and chemistry courses. However, after learning basic chemistry and seeing how everything we see, touch, feel, and smell had something to do with chemistry, I was hooked!” he says proudly. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry from Dillard University, Dr. Mitchell headed north and completed his M.S. degree (organic chemistry) from the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA) and then earned a Ph.D.
(polymer chemistry) from Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY). The time that I entered the workforce (1964) as a scientist made me a pioneer, since I was usually the first African American in that position, at that level in that organization, at that salary, with that much responsibility, who had ever been encountered by my colleagues, associates, and subordinates. --Dr. Tyrone D. Mitchell
A member of NOBCChE since 1974, Dr. Mitchell is truly a scientific pioneer! He has approximately 26 U.S. patents on new chemicals or chemical processes that he invented while working at the General Electric Company and at Corning Incorporated. Reflecting back over his career, he recognizes the enormous responsibilities minorities often face when being the first on the job. “My career has been very rich, filled with challenges, successes and failures, and interesting people who I have met along the way. The time that I entered the workforce (1964) as a scientist made me a pioneer, since I was usually the first African American in that position, at that level in that organization, at that salary, with that much responsibility, who had ever been encountered by my colleagues, associates, and subordinates. Through this unique experience, I have been able to impact the lives and careers of others based on what I have learned from surviving for 35 years in the private sector.” Over the course of his college career and professional development, Dr. Mitchell recognizes the importance of mentoring, and has worked with hundreds of students. He certainly feels that his parents were important role models for him and his six siblings. He firmly believes that minority PhDs need to find mentors to be successful. “Prepare yourself academically, find a mentor and cultivate your advisor. If he or she is not supportive, then find someone who is. NOBCChE is an excellent place to find successful mentors.” He also stresses the importance of getting involved in your field by “attending seminars and conferences in your discipline and presenting papers at every opportunity.” As a Program Director with the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Mitchell knows all too well the importance of faculty serving on review panels.
In order to be a successful faculty member, Dr. Mitchell recommends volunteering to review proposals and serve on review panels and becoming known to your colleagues. “You have to do excellent research, write and submit papers for review, and be an excellent teacher and mentor to your students,” he says. When asked about the interdisciplinary changes taking place within the field of science, Dr. Mitchell believes that having a fundamental understanding of chemistry is critical. “Chemistry is called the central science because it is the basis of everything. If you know chemistry, you know about the foods we eat, the air we breathe, and the devices and materials we have contact with everyday. There are so many problems that all of us are faced with such as disease, aging, and finding new supplies of energy. Critical answers to these problems will be found through chemistry, in conjunction with other subjects like math, physics, biology, and social studies, which add new dimensions and perspectives to solving these important problems.”
Pharmacogenomics--Klarissa D. Hardy Throughout my undergraduate experience, the opportunity to pose a scientific question and attempt to answer that question through various techniques has fascinated me. The process of “trial and error” can be so rewarding when one experiment seems to finally work! As a chemistry major at Jackson State University (JSU), I had many valuable experiences conducting research through programs such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation (LS MAMP), the Science and Technology Access to Research and Graduate Education (STARGE), and the National Institutes of Health Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) programs. Research at Merck! In 2005, I was the recipient of the United Negro College Fund•Merck Science Initiative Undergraduate Fellowship, and the knowledge and training that I acquired through this fellowship has most significantly influenced my research interests and broadened my scope of thinking about science. The UNCF•Merck Science Initiative Program, which is directed by Dr. Jerry Bryant, awards thirty-
seven (37) fellowships each year at the undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels. The fellowship provides two consecutive summer research internships at Merck Research Laboratories (MRL) and a one-year full scholarship for undergraduate students. Being one of “Jerry’s Kids” (as we are affectionately called by other fellows) definitely had its benefits! The prestigious award can open many doors of opportunity for African-Americans in science by providing financial support, hands-on training, close mentoring relationships, and institutional support. Through my internship at MRL, I gained priceless research training with cutting edge scientific technologies and state-ofthe-art equipment. During my 2005 UNCF•Merck internship, I explored in vitro technologies in pre-clinical drug metabolism under the mentorship of Dr. Thomas Rushmore, MRL Senior Scientist. My first project focused on an LC-MS/MS method for the assay of 1’-hydroxymidazolam and midazolam in a CYP3A4 bioreactor. When I presented this research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in November 2005, I received an award from the American Chemical Society (ACS)! This experience at Merck opened my eyes to the fascinating possibilities of examining drug development, delivery, and efficacy based on the proteins, enzymes, and RNA molecules associated with genes and diseases. At a time when individuals of marginalized populations within America and the world face grave disparities in health, I am committed to aiding in research efforts for the advancement of personalized medicine.
--Klarissa D. Hardy During my 2006 research experience at MRL, I utilized pharmacogenomic techniques to genotype clinical samples for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in metabolic enzymes, such as cytochrome P450s (CYPs), which contribute to variability in drug response. (Pharmacogenomics is the study of how an individual’s genetic inheritance affects the body’s response to drugs.) I was truly fascinated by examining differences in the interethnic and inter-individual occurrence of SNPs, a
phenomenon that holds great potential for the development and advancement of personalized medicine. On to Graduate School! My Merck mentor was very instrumental in advising me on graduate programs to apply for and selecting faculty conducting research in pharmacogenomics. I am now pursuing graduate studies at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and I am eager to continue conducting research in pharmacogenomics and related fields of study. My goal is to study the bioactivity of CYPs and other metabolic isozymes in drug metabolism. I desire to examine the inter-ethnic occurrence of SNPs, and determine their effects on disease states and individual drug response. At a time when individuals of marginalized populations within America and the world face grave disparities in health, I am committed to aiding in research efforts for the advancement of personalized medicine. I am thankful for the path that my experience through the UNCFâ€˘Merck Science Initiative has inspired me to take, and I hope to have a meaningful impact on biomedical research and healthcare for the future.
Atmospheric Chemistry--Professor Joseph Francisco In June 2006, Dr. Francisco was named the William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Science and Chemistry [1,2]. This distinguished professorship is named in honor of William E. Moore, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry from the Department of Chemistry at Purdue University in 1967. This is a monumental accomplishment because there are very few distinguished professors named in honor of African Americans within the physical science fields. Professor Francisco completed his B.S. degree from the University of Texas at Austin (1977), and earned his doctoral degree in chemical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1983. From 1986-1994, he was a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at Wayne State
University (Detroit, MI), and in 1994, he joined the Department of Chemistry at Purdue University. He has over 300 peer-reviewed publications and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Physical Society (APS). Dr. Francisco has received numerous awards over the years for his scientific achievements including the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar Award. Moreover, he received the 1992 NOBCChE Outstanding Teacher Award and the 1995 Percy Julian Award. Since 2005, he has served as the National President of NOBCChE. Career Highlights of Dr. Joe Francisco: 1977 B.S. Chemistry Degree, University of Texas at Austin 1983 Earned Ph.D. MIT 1986 Joined Faculty at Wayne State U. 1992 NOBCChE Teacher Award 1995 Percy Julian Award 1993 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship 1994 Joined Faculty at Purdue 2005 NOBCChE President 2006 Joe Francisco (Purdue) named the William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Science & Chemistry
Professor Franciscoâ€™s research focuses on the kinetics and photochemistry of novel transient species within the gas phase. Recent peer-reviewed publications [3,4] investigate experimental and ab initio studies involving the OH radical and XBS+ (X=H, F, and Cl). Congratulations Professor Francisco! We celebrate this achievement with you! References Cited 1. Joe Francisco and Phil Fuchs Nominated as Designated Professors. Purdue University Department of Chemistry. (http://www.chem.purdue.edu/NewsFeed/newss tory.asp?itemID=182; accessed 8/11/06). 2. Wang, L. Chem. Eng. News 2006, 84(77), p. 77. 3. Francisco, J.S. J. Chem. Phys. 2006, 124(11), 114303/1-114303/7. 4. Christensen, L.E.; Okumura, M.; Hansen, J.C.; Sander, S.P.; Francisco, J.S. J. of Physical Chemistry A, 2006, 110(21), 6948-6959.
Biophysical Chemistry—Professor William Moore As an undergraduate student at Southern University A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA (SUBR), Bill Moore was not completely sold on the idea of majoring in chemistry. In fact, he was leaning towards majoring in biology. “I was dragged into the field of chemistry by Dr. Vandon White, my most influential college mentor. When I completed his first-year course, he wouldn’t let go until I had changed my major to chemistry. I chose chemistry with great reluctance. I did not have a good high school course in chemistry, but [I had] some measure of aptitude for all of my subjects. However, when I got to college, I felt intimidated because I had taken only a half semester of a chemistry laboratory [course].” In the early 1960s, Moore had the opportunity to participate in his first undergraduate research project due to a collaboration between Tulane chemistry professor Jahn Hamer and Dillard University (DU). Hamer had received NSF (National Science Foundation) funding, and some of the research efforts were to be completed at DU. Moore’s advisor (White) made some calls and got him into the program. Moore was the only student from SUBR participating in the summer research program, while the remaining students were from Dillard. Moore looks fondly back on this research experience and the New Orleans culture and cuisine. “This was a great experience for me and I especially enjoyed being in the intellectual climate in chemistry at Dillard. I also enjoyed the Jazz at Joy Tavern and the shrimp po-boys from Claiborne Avenue.” Moore earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry from SUBR in 1963 and pursued graduate studies at Purdue University, earning his Ph.D. (biophysical chemistry) in 1967 under the direction of Professor Joseph Foster. Moore was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry at Purdue. Initially, Moore applied to several Big Ten universities for graduate study. But, White made a call to the chair of chemistry at Purdue (Earl McBee) and later Purdue called Moore offering him a TA position. His friends also encouraged him to
attend Purdue because “Purdue was the MIT of the Midwest.” Moore actually had a fellowship offer from another Big Ten university, but he turned them down after the call from Purdue. Upon his arrival to Purdue in 1963, Moore was one of four African American graduate students in chemistry, thus providing a critical mass of students. Eventually, Southern University was a feeder institution for the Purdue graduate chemistry program. Overall, Moore feels that he had a good experience at Purdue. After earning his Ph.D., Moore gave a little thought to pursuing a career in industry, but he knew he was better suited for a university setting. In fact, White made it real clear to Moore that he was going to return to Southern as a professor of chemistry. Despite a heavy teaching load, Moore was able to conduct research and publish his efforts in the Journal of Chemical Education and other high quality peer-reviewed journals from 1967-77. But, Moore stresses the importance of having more African American professors at major research universities and to not be blindly attracted to nonacademic careers. He states, “We need diversity in academia at major research universities. To put it even more bluntly, we need more high achieving African Americans there. When I was Chief Academic Officer at Southern, I literally preached ‘get a Ph.D. and seek an appointment at a major research university.’ Of course, we want some of them to return to Southern to continue our rich tradition.” It was during the mid-1970s that Moore became involved with NOBCChE. “I first became involved with NOBCChE in 1976. I was there with pioneers including Bill Jackson, Jim Porter, Jim Perkins, Bill Guillory, Lloyd Ferguson, Frank Hamilton, Linda Mead, Tom Cole, Kofi Bota, and Henry McBay. There may be names I am omitting and I apologize for that. The point I wish to make is that this was a first-rate organization 30 years ago, whose presentations compared with or exceeded ACS quality.” Looking back over his career, he has had many proud achievements including his invited lectureship at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in the late 1970s, his appointment as Chair of the General Review Committee of NIH (National Institutes of Health), and serving on the Apple Computer Advisory Board for North America. Moreover, he
is also proud of his role in changing the learning environment at Southern as Chief Academic Officer for nine years. “But, the Purdue Distinguished Professorship in my honor has to be at the top,” he says proudly. Professor Moore Career Highlights: 1962 Dillard University Undergraduate Summer Research Program 1963 B.S. Chemistry, Southern Univ. 1967 First African American to receive Ph.D. from Purdue University 1967 Returned to Southern University as Chemistry Professor 1976 First involvement with NOBCChE 1978 Invited Lectureship at the Pasteur Institute in Paris 1981 Chair of the General Review Committee of NIH 2004 Purdue Distinguished Alumnus 2006 Joe Francisco (Purdue) named the William E. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Science & Chemistry
In addition to Professor White, Moore credits others for his success. “There are two special women who served as mentors in my life. One was my aunt Ethel Provience, who was my teacher, surrogate mother and [my] greatest cheerleader. She was with me from childhood to the peak of my career. The second is my wife of 43 years, Willa Warren Moore. We got married about three weeks before I entered the graduate program at Purdue, and she has served as my support base since that time. She also found time to raise two children and have her own professional career. Finally, Joe Francisco saw something in me that caused him to push for my name to become a part of his title. I am grateful for his confidence in the quality of my work and his belief in my commitment.”
Organic Chemistry--Dr. Lamont Terrell Growing up in Mississippi, Lamont Terrell had dreams of becoming a medical doctor. But after his freshman year at Texas Southern University, and a little family influence from his uncle and NOBCChE Executive Board Chair, Dr. Bobby Wilson, that all changed. “Initially, I was a pre-med
chemistry major, but I changed my major to chemistry and math. I always had a love for math, and I enjoyed making things,” says Terrell. As an undergraduate student, Terrell conducted a research project focusing on preparing oil-soluble zirconium (IV) complexes. Terrell graduated in 1995 with his B.S. degree in chemistry. He decided to pursue his PhD in the Department of Chemistry at Michigan State University (MSU) again to due family influence from his uncle Bobby Wilson, who earned his PhD in chemistry from MSU several years earlier. As a graduate student, he focused on the total synthesis of the assigned structure of the antileukemic macrolactone amphidinolide A. Terrell earned his Ph.D. (organic chemistry) from MSU in 2001. After completing his PhD, Terrell accepted a postdoctoral appointment in the Department of Chemistry at Stanford University. “I wanted to continue my synthetic organic chemistry training with one of the top organic chemists in the country. I also knew that I wanted to obtain a position in the pharmaceutical industry for synthetic organic chemistry. A postdoc was pretty much required.” We are not told at an early age the benefit of getting an advanced degree. As a result, upon graduation with a B.S. degree, many will take the “money” and run. --Lamont Terrell, PhD
In 2003, Terrell headed to industry, and accepted a position at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Philadelphia, PA. Terrell serves as an Investigator with GSK, in the medicinal chemistry division within the Cardiovascular and Urogenital CEDD (Centres of Excellence for Drug Discovery). Terrell believes that in order to be successful in industry you should always perform at your highest level regardless of the performance level of your peers. But, Terrell also recognizes that alternative careers such as science policy are good options for other PhD chemists. “I think alternative careers are good career paths for some individuals. I would feel more comfortable with chemists making policy decisions,” says Terrell. Terrell has been a member of NOBCChE for last the 13 years, so he knows the challenges to broaden
participation within the chemical sciences. “Often with academic training, minorities are taught to go to school and get an education to secure a good job. We are not told at early aged the benefit of getting an advanced degree. As a result, upon graduation with a B.S. degree, many will take the “money” (job) and run with it,” says Terrell. Terrell has various accomplishments in his career, but his proudest achievement is giving back and mentoring students within chemistry to increase the STEM pipeline. Terrell is clearly making NOBCChE proud in industry!
Inorganic Chemistry--Dr. Novella Bridges
When asked why are there so few minorities pursuing doctorates in the chemical sciences, Dr. Novella Bridges says quite frankly, “Knowledge, time, and money.” She believes that a critical factor is the lack of understanding of financing graduate education. Moreover, students don’t see the value in pursuing a doctorate. “Most students are simply unaware of the opportunities,” she says. Dr. Bridges attended high school in Detroit, MI and was a member of her high school basketball, volleyball and track teams. As a sophomore, she participated in a computer science training program through General Motors (GM) and decided to become a computer scientist. She changed her mind and decided to major in chemistry on the recommendation of her high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Keith Sprow. At the time, Dr. Bridges was taking a chemistry course from Mr. Sprow and was a high achiever in the class. He had plans to develop an advanced chemistry course for the next school year, and suggested that she take the course. Yes, she took that course and excelled in the advanced class too! “Mr. Sprow told me that I was really good at solving problems, and
he encouraged me to pursue chemistry. And, Mr. Sprow did not stop there. He talked to my parents and encouraged them to let me attend college and major in science.” In 1990, Dr. Bridges received an athletic and academic scholarship to attend Jackson State University (JSU), an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) located in Jackson, MS. She was introduced to NOBCChE in 1991 as an undergraduate chemistry major. “I really think that NOBCChE is an excellent outreach and support network for minorities in the science fields,” she says. My proudest achievement really has to be working with students. Especially, when they tell me I was a role model for them. --Novella Bridges, PhD
During her junior year at JSU, Dr. Bridges was feeling home sick and was discouraged from pursuing chemistry by a faculty member. At the time, she thought her best option was to return to Detroit and transfer to another institution. When she informed her mother of her newfound plans, she got a wake up call. “My mother made it very clear that if I returned to Detroit, I would have no financial support, and I would need to find a job and pay her rent. After thinking about that conversation for two days, I called home and told her I decided to stick it out at Jackson State,” she says laughingly. She completed her B.S. in Chemistry in 1994, and headed to Baton Rouge, LA for graduate study at Louisiana State University (LSU). Dr. Bridges earned her Ph.D. in Organometallic Chemistry from LSU in 2000. She then headed to the Pacific Northwest to accept a research position with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA. Her research efforts at PNNL focus on various areas including hydrogen-storage (fuel cells), the development of therapeutic agents for cancer treatment, and the development of novel catalysts for treatment of diesel fuel emissions. 13
Over the years, Dr. Bridges has won several awards for her professional and scientific achievements including PNNL Woman of Achievement Award, a National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Sciences (GEM) fellowship, and a Rising Star Award from Career Communications Group (CCG) Inc. Earlier this year, Dr. Bridges was appointed as chair-elect to the Richland local section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). However, she is proudest of mentoring minority students in the chemical sciences. “My proudest achievement has to be working with students. Especially, when they come back and tell me that I was a role model for them,” she says with a smile.
Chemical Industry--Dr. Marquita Qualls
A sincere love of cooking and a true passion to help others led former NOBCChE National President, Dr. Marquita M. Qualls to the chemical sciences. This Mississippi native initially majored in biology then switched to chemistry. “I actually started as a biology major because I wanted to be a doctor—that’s the only way I was aware [at that time] to help people get better. After my freshman year, I started to learn about research opportunities. And, the more I learned, the more I understood that being a medical doctor was not the only way to help sick people. It was actually the researchers that elucidated the mechanisms of actions for the diseases and made medicines for cures. This new found knowledge coupled with my love of cooking and a very good high school chemistry teacher made the logical choice to change my major to chemistry,” she says laughingly. Since attending an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) was very important to Dr. Qualls, she attended Tougaloo College (Jackson, MS) for her freshman year, then later
transferred to Tennessee State University (Nashville, TN). As an undergraduate chemistry major, she was awarded an NIHMARC (National Institutes of Health Minority Access to Research Careers) fellowship and focused on three very different research projects. As a MARC fellow, Dr. Qualls spent the summers conducting research at Howard University (Washington, DC) and Purdue University (Lafayette, IN). At Howard, she focused on the synthesis of fentanyl metabolites under the direction of Professor Jesse Nicholson. She worked with Professor Benito Marinas at Purdue focusing on pioneering reverse osmosis systems. Her research project at TSU focused on the impact of folic acid on developing chick embryos. “It was a biochemistry project, but it still enabled me to do a lot of analytical work,” she says. My tenure marked the [symbolic] passing of the leadership baton to the next generation of NOBCChE. --Marquita Qualls, PhD
She earned her B.S. degree in chemistry from TSU in 1994 and then headed to Purdue University for graduate study. She earned her Ph.D. in chemistry in 2001 and worked under the direction of Professor David Thompson focusing on intracellular drug delivery systems. After completing her doctorate, she accepted a research position with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Philadelphia, PA. Currently, she is the Manager of Scientific and Business Strategy for the Global Facilities Strategy in R&D at GSK. As a graduate student at Purdue, she became very active with the NOBCChE Organization. She was a founding and charter member of the Purdue University student chapter and she served as National Student Representative (1999-2001). Subsequently, she served as National Secretary (2001-2003), National President (2003-2005) and editorial advisor for NOBCChE News OnLine (2005-2007).
Reflecting on her tenure as National President, Dr. Qualls envisioned our Organization and its mission of creating an eminent community of Black scientists as a relay race. “The first leg began in 1972 when seven (7) men had the vision to establish a national organization dedicated to the professional development of Black chemists and chemical engineers. My tenure marked the [symbolic] passing of the leadership baton to the next generation of NOBCChE,” she says proudly.
Frye began graduate studies at the University of Chicago under the direction of Professor Takeshi Oka. Frye’s research focused on highresolution infrared spectroscopy. In 1983, Frye was awarded the NOBCChE-Eastman Kodak fellowship, and has been a member of NOBCChE ever since. She earned her doctorate in 1985.
her experience as an undergraduate student at Temple University (Philadelphia, PA), Joan Frye wanted to pursue biology. “Originally, I thought I wanted to major in biology, but when I enrolled, one of the teachers told me that medical schools required more chemistry than biology courses. So, I switched to chemistry,” says Frye while sipping a cup of coffee.
After completing three postdoctoral appointments at Technical University in Vienna (1985- 86), Brookhaven National Laboratory (1986- 1988), and Argonne National Laboratory (1988- 1989), Frye began a tenuretrack position in the Department of Chemistry at Howard University (Washington, DC). “If you’re trying to get a job at a research institution, you have to do a postdoc for 2-3 years, really hone your research skills and come up with ideas for challenging research problems that you will pursue in the academic institution,” she says. “If you’re trying to get a job at primarily a teaching institution, you really need to become familiar with current and emerging practices in chemical education. You cannot just teach the way you were taught. That may not be appropriate for your new institution.”
Frye was a commuter student, and worked during the day at Arco Chemical and attended night school. After completing her B.A. degree in chemistry in 1978, Frye didn’t pursue her original plans of becoming a medical doctor. Instead she continued her position in industry! “I got a job at a chemical company doing analytical chemistry. So, I was exposed to chemical research as an undergraduate and enjoyed it. In 1980, when I decided to go back to school, it never occurred to me to pursue an MD—I was interested in research.”
As an African American PhD chemist, Frye knows all too well about the low numbers of underrepresented minorities pursing doctorates in the STEM fields. “So many AfricanAmericans are still 1st or 2nd generation college students, and are not as aware of all the postgraduate options as students from families with a long tradition of college matriculation. When I was on the faculty at Howard, I was amazed at the number of undergraduates who did not realize that someone would pay you a stipend to go to graduate school.”
Science Policy—Dr. Joan Frye
Reflecting back over
We need scientifically literate folks at all levels of society, including science policy. We need folks who are good communicators. --Joan Frye, PhD
In August 1995, Frye left academia, and headed into the science policy arena at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, VA. “We need scientifically literate folks at all levels of society, including science policy. We need folks who are good communicators of science,” she says. Frye serves as a Staff 15
Associate in the Office of Integrative Activities at NSF. Looking back over her career, Frye certainly feels that her husband’s support was critical to her success. “My husband Tommie, who is also a chemist, provided a phenomenal amount of encouragement and support over the years. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be where I am today without him,” she says. When asked if she has any regrets about her career she says with a huge laugh, “Yeah, but none that I’m willing to divulge in this public forum!”
Chemical Engineering—Tokiwa Smith! Tokiwa Smith had a huge dilemma on her hands as an undergraduate student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). She loved both mathematics and chemistry and truly wanted to find a major to satisfy her love for both! “I chose to major in chemical engineering to combine my love of chemistry and math. I knew that getting an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering would give me a more transferable skill set than if I majored in chemistry,” she says while nodding her head. While pursuing her undergraduate studies at FAMU, she conducted research on HIV, a virus that is devastating the African American community at an alarming rate. Under the direction of Dr. John West in the Department of Chemistry, she specifically focused on the NMR investigation of HIV-1 protease inhibitors. “This project used NMR to determine appropriate compounds for HIV drugs,” she said. In 2001, she earned her B.S. degree in chemical engineering from FAMU. Like many NOBCChE members, she first became involved with the organization by presenting a poster focusing on her research efforts. She attended her very first NOBCChE Annual Meeting (AM) in Miami, Florida in
2000. As a result of her experience at the AM, she has become extremely active within NOBCChE! For example, she helped revitalize the FAMU/FSU NOBCChE Chapter and served as Chapter President from 2000-01 and she has served as the Student Support SubCommittee Chair for the National Planning Committee (2003-04). Since 2004, she has served as the treasurer for the Atlanta Metro Chapter and is also the Southeast Regional Chapter Liaison under the direction of Dr. James Grainger, NOBCChE Southeast Regional Chair. I am a scientist that has pursued an alternative career path, and I am happy with my career choice. --Ms. Tokiwa Smith
In March 2006 she followed the “alternative” career path and accepted a position at Spelman College (Atlanta, GA) as the Howard Hughes Program Coordinator in the Department of Biology. Her responsibilities include coordinating activities for the undergraduate research fellowship and biomedical summer science programs. In addition to her position at Spelman, in 2004 she founded Science, Engineering and Mathematics (SEM) Link, Inc. a tax exempt, not for profit organization that provides educational support and career exploration activities in math and science for K-12 students. Through its program and services SEM Link exposes students to the STEM community. When asked about her career path, she is quite satisfied with her decision. “I am a scientist that has pursued an alternative career path, and I am happy with my career choice. A mentor of mine, Dr. G. Davon Kennedy, taught me that we need to ensure that our career path is one that we have an aptitude and passion for. For some people, that is a traditional career path, and for others it’s an alternative one. Although, I don’t have a traditional career path, I help mentor students that pursue careers in the STEM disciplines,” she says. 16
Science & Technology—Dr. Victor McCrary
As the newly elected National President of NOBCChE, Dr. Victor R. McCrary is certainly no stranger to the NOBCChE family. In fact, NOBCChE founder, Professor Bill Jackson (Emeritus, University of California, Davis) introduced him to the organization. “Dr. Bill Jackson was my thesis professor at Howard University and he exposed us to NOBCChE in 1979, so you can say I’ve been with NOBCChE for close to 30 years. Quite frankly, I would not be in the position I currently hold, or at this state in my career, if it were not for NOBCChE,” he says smiling. As an undergraduate student in the 1970s, Dr. McCrary decided to major in chemistry because he wanted to eventually attend medical school. “It was 1973, and the height of the antiwar movement. There was a group of us who protested the Vietnam War, and at the same time wanted to change the world—one of us wanted to be a nurse, another a teacher, and I was going to be a doctor. Well, I did become a ‘doctor,’ but not the kind that can help you if you were sick,” he says laughing. After earning his B.A. in chemistry from the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) in 1978, Dr. McCrary pursued graduate studies at Howard University and earned a PhD in 1985. Soon after, Dr. McCrary left the Nation’s Capitol and headed to Murray Hill, New Jersey and worked as a research chemist with AT&T Bell Laboratories from 1985-1995. In 1995, he earned a masters degree in technology management from the University of Pennsylvania. “Going back [to school] for my executive masters was real fun. I was the “old man” in the class and solved integrals by tables vs. using Mathematica—and it works!” After spending a decade at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Dr. McCrary served as Chief of the Convergent
Information Systems Division at the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Dr. Bill Jackson was my thesis professor at Howard University, and he exposed us to NOBCChE in 1979, so you can say I’ve been with NOBCChE for close to 30 years. --Victor McCrary, PhD
Dr. McCrary currently serves as the Business Area Executive for Science and Technology at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. “In my position, I oversee internal research & development projects funded in our business area and work with our program managers to develop externally funded R&D for our sponsors. My position affords me the opportunity to be exposed to a broad spectrum of research activities from biometrics to quantum computing to advanced nanoscale materials, as well as meeting my counterparts in agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research (ONR), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA),” he says. Dr. McCrary knows that good mentoring and great role models were critical for his successful career. He recognizes several important roles models including his mother because she was truly a visionary before her time, Malcolm X because he stood up for his beliefs, William Jackson because he demonstrated the value of hard work, and Jack Welch—a superb manager of high technology for 21st century global business. Over the years, Dr. McCrary has received various awards for his achievements including the Department of Commerce’s Gold Medal (2000) for his electronic book research project at NIST and the Percy Julian Award (2002). But he is most proud of his family. “My proudest achievements are my two children, Francesca and Max and watching them grow up and believe they have no bounds to what they can achieve.” 17
Chemical Industry—Ms. Ella Davis During their 2008 Winter meeting in Philadelphia, the NOBCChE Executive Board appointed Ms. Ella L. Davis as its Interim Executive Director. In her new role, Ms. Davis will be responsible for the day – to – day management of the organization’s operations, focusing her attention on the national office and member relations including membership and election procedures. Ella is a long time NOBCChE member who has been active at both the local and national levels. She has served NOBCChE in many capacities since being introduced to the organization as a charter member of the Delaware Valley Chapter (DVC) in 1982. She was the second DVC president and presided over that chapter’s dramatic rise in membership from approximately 20 to 65 members. She is a current Member-at-Large (term: 2005 – 2008) of the executive board. From 2001 – 2003, she was the national president, and served as national vice – president prior to that term (1999 – 2001). She has also served as chair of the registration sub-committee of the National Conference Planning Committee in its inception in 1995. However, she fulfilled that role in 1988 and 1994 when the annual conference was organized by the Northeast region. In addition to NOBCChE, Ms. Davis has been an active member of the Philadelphia section of the American Chemical Society. She serves as the 2008 current chair, having recently assumed office. She as also been a local ACS director since 1993. Ella’s professional career began as an R&D Technician followed by a Control Analyst at Rohm and Haas Company in Philadelphia, PA and also followed by working as a Laboratory Assistant for Wyeth Laboratory in Radnor, PA. In 1975, she joined the PQ Corporation’s R&D Center in Conshohocken, PA, as an R&D Technician and rose to the highest rank of
Technician Associate in four years. She took classes at night in order to complete her Bachelor of Science degree from Drexel University in 1980. Upon completion, she was promoted to the rank of Chemist I and rose five levels over the next 20 years to R&D Supervisor. In that capacity, she added unofficially mentoring younger chemists and technicians to her work responsibilities. During her tenure at PQ, Ella developed expertise in several areas that were key to the company’s successes in industrial chemicals. For example, she developed first practical methods for making sodium silicate in the laboratory that are similar to actual plant processes. She was able to separate the effects of raw materials and process variables and generated a better understanding of contributions of each variable to product quality. These crucial insights led to changes in the type and quality of raw materials purchased as well as major modifications in the manufacturing process used in several plants. In addition, she utilized ion chromatography to demonstrate that trace levels of selected anions do not leach from silica gel products when used to treat beer. This analysis was instrumental to the decision to continue the development of the next generation silica gel product for chillproofing beer that eventually quadrupled sales. Another one of her innovations was the development of an original Visual Basic program that automated an established ion exchange procedure and collected additional kinetic data. The program generated data essential to the development of new ion exchangers for use in detergent market and other ion exchange based applications. Interfacing computers to analytical instruments for data acquisition and processing led to significant cost savings for the company as well as improving the quality of the analytical department. In her 25 years at PQ, she contributed significantly to the success of many of its product lines.
In 2003, Ms. Davis joined the Pfizer Global Manufacturing facility in Lititz, PA as a Team Leader in their Quality Control Laboratory. Her responsibilities included providing direction to, and proactively managing the QC laboratory's daily operations, performance planning, cGMP compliance, and providing overall customer service. In addition, she directed workload scheduling and prioritization, the performing of analyses, troubleshooting, and personal safety, as well as provided technical understanding of regulations applicable to laboratory testing for cGMP
purposes. The effort ensured compliance with all procedures, methods, and other regulatory commitments for the facility. In 2007, Pfizer sold this division to Johnson and Johnson. One of the major concerns that will occupy Ellaâ€™s NOBCChE time is the recreation of the member database of registrants who attend our annual meetings. These data will provide us with the capability to analyze trends in meeting attendance, to tract college students and other demographics. Letâ€™s wish her the best of luck in that endeavor.
About NOBCChE The National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) resulted from an April 1972 Ad Hoc Committee for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. The committee was assisted financially by a grant of $850 provided by the Haas Community Fund, and a $400 grant administered through Drexel University. NOBCChE was incorporated in 1975 under the laws of the State of Georgia and has tax-exempt status (501c3) as a nonprofit professional society. Since its inception, NOBCChE has grown in size to approximately 4,000 members, who are distributed over five regions – Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West--that contain both professional and student chapters. NOBCChE’s first national meeting was held in March 1974 in New Orleans. Dr. William Guillory, one of NOBCChE’s seven founders, was elected the first President at that meeting. The organization has held national meetings every year since then. The national meetings provide opportunities for Black chemists and chemical engineers to discuss issues of significance to their careers, to present technical papers, to mentor high school, undergraduates and graduates in the areas of science and technology, and to present several fellowships to deserving graduate students. The first graduate fellowship was established by the Proctor & Gamble Company in 1976. This was followed in 1980 by the Kodak Fellowship Award and in 1990 by the DuPont Company Fellowship Award. In recent years, additional graduate fellowships havebeen established by GlaxoSmithKline, and the Dow Chemical Company. A new joint National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) University of Maryland – NOBCChE fellowship will begin in 2007.
To date, more than one million dollars have been distributed through these fellowships. In addition, national meetings serve as occasions to recognize professional members through the Percy L. Julian Professional Achievement Award and the Dr. Henry C. McBay Outstanding Teacher Award. Professor McBay, who was one of NOBCChE’s seven founders, taught chemistry at Morehouse College until his death at the age of 80. NOBCChE also administers the Henry A Hill Lectureship sponsored by the Northeast Section of the American Chemical Society. NOBCChE is committed to the discovery, transmittal, and application of knowledge in the fields of science and engineering. The mission of NOBCChE therefore is to build an eminent community of scientists and engineers by increasing the number of minorities in these fields. NOBCChE attempts to achieve its mission through diverse programs designed to foster professional development and encourage students to pursue careers in science and technical fields. To this end, NOBCChE has established educational partnerships with school districts, municipalities, businesses, industries, other institutions and organizations in the public and private sectors. For more information, visit the NOBCChE website at www.nobcche.org.
Published on Apr 1, 2008
Celebrating Our History in the Chemical Sciences: Interviews conducted by Dr. Sibrina Collins