Jewel Plummer Cobb (1924-2017) was the first woman of color to obtain a Ph.D. in biology in the United States. In 1949, while still in graduate school, Cobb was named an independent investigator at the MBL, and she returned to MBL for several subsequent summers as a Library Reader. She was a member of the MBL Corporation from 1972-2016.
By ABC7 Eyewitness News
NEW YORK (WABC) — A pioneer in the field of cancer research, Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb advanced the treatment of skin cancer and paved the way for other women and minorities in a field traditionally dominated by white men.She was born on January 17, 1924 in Chicago and was the granddaughter of a freed slave.
Her father was a physician and her mother was a physical education instructor so she was naturally drawn to science.
“She remembers very distinctly looking into the microscope in her freshman year of high school was the aha moment for her,” Plummer Cobb’s son, R. Jonathan Cobb, said.
Cobb decided to pursue her passion for science at New York University, but she said the university initially turned down her application for a teaching fellowship because of her race.
She refused to give up and instead she traveled to NYU, convinced officials of her qualifications, and began teaching there in 1945.
“I can only imagine the hurdles she had to overcome being the first woman of color to get a biology PhD in the United States,” R. Jonathan Cobb said. Read more and see news video…