Just came across Tumblr blog on History of Women in Science. It’s quite good and can be used in slide show format to relay briefs on women scientists in history from 2200+BCE on. I learned something, two women scientists in early 1950s invented Nystatin, an antifungal that was used to cure fungal infections that were sometimes secondary to people using penicillin. Before 1950, penicillin’s were derived from fungi and used often caused outbreaks of fungal infections. Nystatin was developed in response to this and is still used to today in antibiotics. Microbiologist Elizabeth Hazen a chemist and chemist Rachel Brown were working at the Division of Laboratories and Research, New York State Department of Health, Albany, when they made their discovery. This record can be accessed at the Smithsonian online archives.
Another truly amazing woman, Dr. Euphemia Lofton Haynes (1890-1980) is also featured in the blog. I have to tell her story here.
At the age of 53, she was the first African American woman to gain a PhD in Mathematics at the Catholic University of America. Her dissertation was titled “The Determination of Sets of Independent Conditions Characterizing Certain Special Cases of Symmetric Correspondences.”. This extraordinary lady was a teacher in the District of Columbia’s (D.C.) public school system for 47 years.
As a professor of mathematics at Miner Teachers College, she established the mathematics department in 1930 and served as chair of the Division of Mathematics and Business Education. During her tenure (1966-1967) as the first woman Chair of the District of Columbia School Board, she played an important role in the desegregation of DC’s public schools. Upon her death in 1980, she donated over $700,000 to establish the Euphemia Lofton Haynes Chair in the Department of Education at the Catholic University of America (CAU). Much more information about her life can be found in the CAU archives.