STEM Women in Chemistry: Marie Maynard Daly

Black and white photo of Dr Marie Maynard Daly in a lab. She is pouring liquid into a beaker and she wears a lab coat

Wrote this on Marie Maynard Daly for STEM Women, an amazing scientist who also championed diversity. She celebrated her father, who supported her career. Research demonstrates that parental involvement in their children’s careers is important to success, but in science it is especially important for women going into male dominated fields to have their parents actively aware of the challenges they face. This can be harder for working class people whose parents don’t have high educational qualifications and women of colour and those of other minority backgrounds, as they face racism, sexism and other discrimination throughout their education and careers.

Dr Marie Maynard Daly

Marie Maynard Daly conducted ground-breaking research on the impact of cholesterol and sugars on heart disease, as well as examining the circulatory system and hypertension in advanced age. Towards the end of her career, she examined how proteins are produced and organised in the cell.

Today she is remembered for being the first Black American woman to be awarded a PhD in Chemistry in the United States, in 1947, but her legacy is more profound, both in terms of her scientific achievements, and her work in promoting diversity in STEM.

Dr Daly graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor degree in Chemistry in 1942; she completed her Master’s degree in one year; and her PhD in 3 years.

In 1988, Dr Daly also established a scholarship for African American science students at Queens College. The fund honours of her father who was a strong supporter of her education and career, and who was forced by economic circumstances to drop out of Cornell University, where he was studying chemistry.

“Enzymes are complicated and indispensable molecules, whose importance lies within their ability to speed up chemical reactions, and to regulate nearly every biochemical process in the bodies of living organisms. Countless scientists spent years researching those intricate molecules – amongst others, one of the most prominent was Marie Maynard Daly….

Marie Maynard Daly conducted important research projects, which clarified a variety of mechanisms happening in human bodies despite all the problems she had to overcome, whether it was race or gender bias, or her lack of money. Her research and studies, aimed at a wide range of subjects, provided an important base for next generations of scientists.”

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