Science firsts: St. Elmo Brady-first African American PhD in Chemistry

For the past couple of years I have been interested in the history behind science. Who are these people who have made discoveries and designed the tools of my work? What kind of lives did they lead? Were they politically aligned? What were their perspectives on religion and culture? What are their stories?

With “celebrity” scientists like Newton, Einstein, Bohr, or Heisenberg, there is, compared to most, a growing wealth of information. I think this is so because people cared enough to preserve artifacts of who these individuals were. They are identified as relevant based on their contributions along with other criteria such as gender, race, and attachment to certain historical events. People like Percy Julian (synthesis of human hormones-think of birth control pills), Maude Menten (enzymology-think of Michaelis-Menten kinetics), and Marie Daly (impacts of smoking on the lungs) are far less well known even though the fruits of their labor shape science and medicine to this day.

Don’t think that the little that I listed in parentheses embodies the work of these individuals or that there are only three scientists who I can list here. Each time I go on a search for information another name pops up. In my research of Percy Julian, I found out about St. Elmo Brady.

St. Elmo Brady is the first African American to earn a PhD in Chemistry. After earning a B.S. from Fisk University, Brady earned a PhD from the University of Illinois IN 1916. I wouldn’t dare to begin to articulate any aspect of his experience. As I am currently digging deeper, I find it amazing that he established a summer training program in INFRARED SPECTROSCOPY. I have added some links below that give a bit of history on Dr. Brady.

I hope to find the time to really research his impacts on the science community.

St. Elmo Brady-University of Illinois

St. Elmo Brady-AAAS

St. Elmo Brady-Blackpast.org


2 thoughts on “Science firsts: St. Elmo Brady-first African American PhD in Chemistry

  1. Pingback: Mary Maynard Daly: First African American Woman to Earn a PhD in Chemistry | My Purple Glasses

  2. Pingback: Woman in Science Short: Annie Easley, the computer scientist you probably never heard of | Tube Racks & Paper Stacks

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