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You Should Know: Dr. Marie Daly

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Welcome to the eighth installment of You Should Know, where I give my own #ScholarSunday salute to Science Bloggers and Blogs you may not yet know about. But this week is a little different. I’m shining the spotlight on a scholar from history that you should definitely know.

Introducing Dr. Marie Daly…

Thanks again to the beauty of social media, I learned about this amazing woman, a heroine of science history via Facebook. Dr. Daly was the very first African-American (or Black) woman to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry in the United States.

Inspired by  books of science adventure that she read while visiting her grand parents, young Marie Daly dreamed of becoming a scientist early in life. Having the support of her family, including her father who attended Cornell University and majored in Chemistry, she attended an all-girls secondary school in Queens, NY where she grew up. She went on to college and earned a BS in chemistry from Queens College. She worked for a while as laboratory assistant at her alma mater and earned her MS in Chemistry from New York University during this period.

Thanks to a series of circumstances – WWII and the shortage of male candidates, she earned what we now call a fellowship to attend Columbia University. She studied under a female professor, Dr. Mary L Caldwell. Under Dr. Caldwell’s direction, Daly studied the enzyme amylase and the chemistry of the digestive system and looked to understand how nutrition was connected to other health measures in people. The title of her dissertation was “A Study of the Products Formed by the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch.” She completed her program in quick time, her doctoral degree was awarded in 1947, only three years after enrolling in the program.

Dr. Daly’s most significant work is examining the biochemistry of cholesterol and heart health. Her groundbreaking work with Dr. Quentin B. Deming at Columbia University (later the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York), disclosed the relationship between high cholesterol and clogged arteries. That work opened up a new understanding of how foods and diet can affect the health of the heart and the circulatory system. Think about all we know, have learned, suspected and now doubt about diet, fats and heart disease, Dr. Daly blazed a trail for it all.

Learn more about Dr. Marie Daly and her essential contributions to science and biomedical research at these online articles:

Marie Maynard DalyThe Chemical Heritage Foundation
Clark, Marie Maynard Daly (1921-2003) – Blackpast.org
Marie M. Daly – bio

 

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I hope you’re enjoying this series of blog posts. If so, then I’d love to shine the spotlight on additional science blogs and scientists and help spread the word of amazing science outreach. If you know of a great science blog and/or science blogger who you think is amazing and would like to help spread the word about how amazing they are, then submit them. Now accepting rec0mmendations for upcoming Science Blogger Spotlight for upcoming weeks.

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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