Early African-American & hispanic women biologists, a theoretical physicist & a mathematician in politics

There weren’t many African-American women biologists in the 1940s. James Jay found only 3 who earned PhDs by 1969 – another 14 earned PhDs in zoology. One of them was almost certainly Mary Logan Reddick, a neuroembryologist who earned a PhD in 1944 from Radcliffe College, the women’s Harvard back then. She became a full professor at the University of Atlanta, until she died at 51. Reddick also studied at Cambridge University on a fellowship about 10 years after her doctorate.

Alberta Jones Seaton got her PhD in zoology in Belgium in 1949. She and her husband went to Europe to study to avoid the racial barriers in the US. They got involved in African independence movements and moved to Africa. She continued with her academic and science career in biology and embryology in several countries, as he became a prominent lawyer and then jurist.

The images for Mary Reddick and Alberta Seaton are copyright, so their pictures aren’t included in the slideshows here. But they’re now on their Wikipedia pages under “fair use”.

Sarah Stewart (1905-1976) got her biology PhD in 1944. She was a ground-breaking Mexican-American microbiologist who was “the first to show that cancer-causing viruses can spread from animal to animal. She and Bernice Eddy co-discovered the first polyoma virus, and Stewart-Eddy polyoma virus is named after them”. Her photo is below.

The photo (below) of Canadian theoretical physicist, Helen Freedhoff, was generously shared by her son, Yoni Freedhoff (thanks, Yoni!). Helen Freedhoff died suddenly and unexpectedly in June. Born in 1940, she was the first woman appointed as professor of physics at York University, and likely the only woman to be a professor of theoretical physics in Canada at the time.


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New scientists’ pages on Wikipedia

Some more scientists Wikipedians have added:

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“Lady Research Scientist”…so 1950s! Betty Collette (1930-1917) was on the cover of Jet magazine in 1958. She was a veterinary pathologist from North Carolina who earned a PhD in microbiology, studied hypertension in animals, and became a professor at Howard University.

Maristela Svampa (b 1961) is a sociologist from Argentina. She earned her PhD in Paris and is a professor at the National University of La Plata.

Doris Ying Tsao is a professor at Caltech: she pioneered a use of fMRI and discovered a process by which primates recognize faces.

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The indomitable Eqbal Dauqan (b 1981) is a biochemist from Yemen who became a refugee when her university was bombed and members of her family were killed. The International Education-Scholar Rescue Fund helped her settle as a professor in Malaysia. She won a prize for studies on antioxidants in vegetable oils.

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This is Blaženka Divjak (b 1967): she is a mathematician recently appointed Minister of Science, Education and Sports in Croatia. She was a professor who published dozens of papers and 7 books, including textbooks.

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While looking for scientists’ faces, you come across others who are missing from Wikipedia that need to be added. Lately, they included:

W.E. King died in 1919: he founded the Dallas Express in 1892, a weekly newspaper covering black news, billed as “The South’s Oldest and Largest Negro Newspaper”.

In 1919, Georgia Ann Robinson became the first African-American policewoman appointed to the LAPD – and she was probably one of the first two in the US. A long-timed community activist, she also started a women’s shelter – and left the police force after being blinded in the line of duty.

Alexander Walters (1958-1917) was born in slavery just before the Civil War, who became a civil rights activist and bishop.

Spread the word! Read and share more stories – and check out “How to Help” if you would like to add images and stories to Wikipedia.

Hilda Bastian


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