Chemists and other scientists who look like you

It's often hard to find role models who look like you. Most of the chemists in our textbook are white men. Here are more than a few who aren't. If you find lists of others, please let me know.

The QCC Chemistry Department is highly multicultural! About half of full-time faculty are female, and only 4 of us were born in the USA.

TIME Magazine's first ever "kid of the year" (2020) is a 15 year-old, female, South-Asian carbon nanotube researcher!

Black chemists you should know about (from Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly magazine of the American Chemical Society)

Disabled scientists are still vastly underrepresented in the sciences. Compound Chemistry produced a series of twelve graphics highlighting the amazing science being done by disabled scientists across the UK.

Out and proud: celebrating LGBTQ+ chemists (cover story of C&E News 4/11/22)

Published the same day, the cover story of Inorganic Chemistry is Out in Inorganic Chemistry: A Celebration of LGBTQIAPN+ Inorganic Chemists

LGBTQ chemists you should know about (C&E News article 6/7/21)

A research article from the Journal of Chemical Education (2021) describing how faculty can better listen to nonbinary students.

A research article from the Journal of Chemical Education (2021) discussing black women in the whiskey industry.

Dr. Saint Elmo Brady was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry (1916), and is profiled in the short film 20 Whites & One Other.

Dr. Marie Maynard Daly was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry (1943). (The Science History web site is a great source for biographical research!)

To honor the work of Black & African American chemists, both past and present, a curated selection of research and resources from the American Chemical Society as of Feb 5th, 2024.

Cover story from C&E News in honor of Black History Month 2021.

ACS celebrates women scientists in American history

ACS interviews with modern women chemists (several women of color)

Famous female chemists and chemical engineers

Nature interviewed 6 female scientists to ask how they were spending international women's day (March 8th) 2023, and how to assist in promoting true gender equity.

Compound Chemistry does a special issue on International Women's Day (March 8th) many years about famous women chemists. 2017, 2019, 2020, 2022, 2023

Mattel has announced that they're making Barbie dolls celebrating female scientists like Dame Sarah GIlbert (co-developer of Astra-Zeneca's COVID19 vaccine), UK astronomy icon Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Canadian physician Chika Stacy Oriuwa, Brazilian biomedical researcher Jaqueline Góes de Jesus, US doctor Audrey Sue Cruz, US emergency-room nurse Amy O’Sullivan, and Australian MD and protective-gown developer Kirby White.

One of the three 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners (and the winner of the 2024 Priestley medal in chemistry) is Stanford Professor Dr. Carolyn Bertozzi

Judith Love Cohen created the Abort Guidance System (which saved a few lives on Apollo 13) for NASA in 1969, right before she gave birth to actor Jack Black, a favorite of my son, so I had to include the reference!

The Royal Society of Chemistry's list of the most influential women in British science history

Nature magazine's list of the women behind the periodic table and a similar list from

Women in science from the website.

The Significant Figures series in Chemistry World (a publication of England's Royal Society of Chemistry) includes women and people of color like:

  • June Lindsey, an even more obscure member of Rosalind Franklin's team who discovered DNA (with Watson & Crick, the men who ended up with the Nobel prize)
  • Julia Lermontova (chemist, 1847-1919)
  • James LuValle, both an Olympic athlete and a color film chemist for Kodak (1912-1993)

Women in STEM from the US government Dept. of Energy.

Dr. Karen Wetterhahn founded Dartmouth’s Women In Science Program (WISP) and, through her death by dimethylmercury poisoning in her lab, caused a revolution in lab safety.

IUPAC also has a list of the younger chemists of the periodic table, including many women and people of color (such as Clarice Phelps, also profiled above and here, who was instrumental in the discovery of Tennesine)

Professor Jess Wade has made it her mission to write Wikipedia articles about overlooked female scientists.

Andy Brunning's awesome infographics site Compound Chemistry often highlights the contributions of women scientists.

Diversify Chemistry highlights the diverse community of chemists.

10 Latinx scientists you should know

10 game-changing Latinx scientists you didn't learn about in school

Scientists from marginalized communities often have their work stolen or their contributions marginalized. Check out the story of Professor Alice Ball (also a movie) who discovered the cure for leprosy (among other fascinating work), or Dr. Rosalind Franklin who should have gotten a Nobel Prize along with Watson & Crick for elucidating the structure of DNA. More of these stories are collected in the children's book "Stolen Science" by Ella Schwartz.

The ACS career day video below was produced by the NY section of the American Chemical Society and features Dr. Jasmine Hatcher-Lamarre, who was introduced to Brookhaven as a QCC student by the chemistry department's own Dr. Sharon Lall-Ramnarine.

In addition to the MANY resources available at the I Am A Scientist website, you can click here for free digital posters of each of the scientists below saying a little bit about who they are.

thumbnails of images of female scientists

More individuals you could research:

  • Marie-Anne Lavoisier- She and her husband compiled one of the first periodic tables in late 1700’s. Many of their ideas are still used today, even though their table included "fire, air, earth, and water!"
  • Stephanie Kwolek- DuPont chemist who discovered Kevlar in 1965.
  • Dr. Susan Solomon- NOAA scientist and MIT professor who discovered the free radical mechanism of ozone depletion.
  • Inge Lehmann- Danish seismologist who discovered the solid iron core at the "center" of the molten iron core of the Earth in the 1930s.
  • Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi- French virologist who co-discovered HIV and won a Nobel prize in 2008.
  • Dr. Bettye Washington Greene was a black woman who earned her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Wayne State University in 1965.

A recent article at Antiracism Daily begins: "While transitioning to college is a challenging time for all who are privileged enough to experience it, the adjustment is even tougher for students of color, particularly those who arrive from low-income backgrounds and are first-generation college students." I believe this is exacerbated by online learning. Please understand that these are unprecedented times, and QCC has resources to help. PLEASE let me know if I can assist. Do not suffer in silence. You are not alone.

Campus Cultural Centers

Kupferberg Holocaust Center exterior lit up at nightOpens in a new window
Kupferberg Holocaust Center Opens in a new window

The KHC uses the lessons of the Holocaust to educate current and future generations about the ramifications of unbridled prejudice, racism and stereotyping.

Russian Ballet performing at the Queensborough Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window
QPAC: Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window

QPAC is an invaluable entertainment company in this region with a growing national reputation. The arts at QPAC continues to play a vital role in transforming lives and building stronger communities.

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QCC Art Gallery

The QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York is a vital educational and cultural resource for Queensborough Community College, the Borough of Queens and the surrounding communities.