On April 23, 1856 Granville Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio to parents Cyrus Woods and Martha Brown. His family experienced poverty so Woods only attended school until the age of ten, he then began working to help his family survive. He worked in a machine shop where he would learn mechanics; information also suggests that he worked as a railroad engineer, engineer on a British ship, railroad worker and blacksmith. Woods became interested in electrical engineering and began learning as much as he could about electricity and its concepts. From 1876 to 1878 he was enrolled into a technical college where he studied electrical and mechanical engineering, upon graduation he began working on a steamship called the “Ironsides”. After working on the “Ironsides” for two years Woods was promoted to the Chief Engineer of the “Ironsides”. Upon returning to his home state of Ohio he began working at the pumping stations for the Springfield, Jackson and Pomeroy Railroad Company. His next step was becoming an engineer with the Dayton and Southwestern Railroad Company.
Woods was a very brilliant and capable engineer, but he was still a black man working in a white mans world. He was continuously being denied opportunities and losing out on promotions because of his race. Channeling his frustrations, Woods and his brother Lyates created the Woods Electric Company. During the time Woods was traveling as an engineer he developed the ideas for one of his most popular inventions, the multiplex telegraph. He gained his first patents in 1884 for the steam boiler furnace and the telephone transmitter. His next patent was for an apparatus that combined a telephone and a telegraph called the “telegraphony”, the invention allowed someone from a telegraph station to send messages through a single wire. The invention became very popular and Woods would sell the rights of the device to the American Bell Telephone Company. In 1887, he gained another patent for a device that allowed the train stations and the engineers on the trains to communicate while the trains were moving; the device is called a synchronous multiplex railway telegraph.
White supremacy began to rear its ugly head again, Thomas Edison attempted to steal Woods’ patent for the synchronous multiplex railway telegraph. Edison filed a lawsuit but was not successful, after the legal matters were settled Edison offered Woods a position in the Edison Electric Light Company, Woods declined the offer and remained the owner of his own company and inventions. In 1892, he created an electrical system that supplied electricity to trains every twelve feet without having wires or batteries exposed; it allowed the trains to travel without the fear of electrical malfunctions. Woods was responsible for inventing the power pickup device in 1901, and he gained patents for the improved air brake systems from 1902 through 1905. He was responsible for creating over fifteen appliances for railways and held close to sixty patents for his inventions. On January 30, 1910 Woods died in New York City as one of, if not, the greatest inventor in American history. Granville T. Woods, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
April 16, 1921, Marie Maynard Daly was born in Queens, New York to parents Ivan Daly and Helen Page. Her father was a postal clerk from the British West Indies and her mother was a native of New York. Marie was inspired by her father who attended Cornell University and studied chemistry but did not graduate because of financial trouble. She was also inspired by her grandfather’s extensive library where she was able to read about science and famous scientist. Her love for reading led her to read the book The Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif, a book that helped her make her decision on what she wanted to pursue professionally. Marie attended Hunter College High School, an all-girls magnet school for gifted young girls. After graduating Hunter College High School she attended Queens College in Flushing, New York. In 1942, she graduated Queens College magna cum laude with a degree in chemistry and was named the Queens College Scholar. Her next step was earning her master’s degree from New York University in 1943; she also worked as a laboratory assistant at Queens College to make a living. After working as a laboratory assistant she would work as a chemistry tutor as she pursued her doctoral degree from Columbia University.
While working on her doctorate Marie was supervised by Dr. Mary L. Caldwell, who holds a doctorate in nutrition; with the help of Dr. Caldwell Marie was able to learn how the body produced chemicals to digest food. In 1947, Marie was able to successfully complete her thesis titled “A Study of the Products Formed By the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch”, and earned her PhD. in chemistry; Marie Daly became the first African-America woman to earn a PhD. in chemistry. From 1947 to 1948 Marie worked as a physical science instructor at Howard University while conducting research with Herman Branson on the side. She was awarded an American Cancer Society grant to help her conduct postdoctoral research; her research led her to joining Dr. A.E. Mirsky at the Rockefeller Institute to study the cell nucleus. At the institute Marie was able to determine the base compositions of the deoxypentose nucleic acids present by studying the nuclei of a cell. She explored the cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein and how it played a role in protein synthesis, she was also able to use mice to study how protein metabolism differed between fasting and eating conditions.
Daly’s fortunes changed in 1953 when an abundance of funding was available for the research she was conducting. She began working with Dr. Quentin B. Deming to study the effects of aging, hypertension and atherosclerosis on the wall of an artery. She became an assistant professor of biochemistry and medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University. Daly had a passion for teaching and was adamant about helping to increase the number of black youth interested and attending medical school. Daly had an interest in learning how hypertension affected a person’s circulatory system, her interest helped her to serve as an investigator for the American Heart Association. She researched the effects of smoking on the lungs and served as a member of the prestigious board of governors of the New York Academy of Sciences. She received awards from American Association for the Advancement of Science, New York Academy of Sciences, and Council on Arteriosclerosis of the American Heart Association. She received a designation of a career scientist by the Health Research Council of the City of New York before her retirement in 1986. In 1988, she created a scholarship for African American students majoring in chemistry and physics at Queens College, in memory of her father. In 1999, she became one of the top 50 women in science, engineering and technology, a title given to her by the National Technical Association. On October 28, 2003 Daly died at the age of 82 as the first African-American woman in history to earn a PhD. in chemistry. Dr. Marie Maynard Daly, we proudly stand on your shoulders.
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