By Leila McNeill
In 1923, when Roger Arliner Young graduated from Howard University with her bachelor’s degree, she scrawled these words next to her photo: “Not failure, but low aim is a crime.” She would live by that maxim for the next decade, making waves in biology and rising through science and academia at a remarkable speed.
Before even earning her master’s degree, Young became the first black woman to publish a paper in the prestigious journal Science, resulting in an international reputation for discovering the structure of Paramecium – a species of water-dwelling single-celled organisms. For this research, her mentor and eminent biologist Ernest Everett Just praised her as a “real genius in zoology”.
Later, as acting head of Howard University’s zoology department, Young broke new ground as the first black woman in the Sigma Xi fraternity for scientists and engineers. She also became the first black woman to conduct research at the internationally renowned Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Read more …