Science, Now + Beyond

5 badass scientists you haven’t even heard of – but need to know

Step aside, white dudes. These are the scientists we should be learning about in school.

‘Women of color in scientific fields’ is a topic not often spoken about. We have overlooked women and minorities to a point where their success is almost nonexistent. Not for long.

Here are some of the most badass diverse millennial women to ever grace your screen (and, eventually, inspire you).

1. Alice Augusta Ball, Chemistry


Alice Ball is known for having developed an injectable oil extract to treat Leprosy; the treatment being the most effective of its kind until the 1940s. She was the first African American and woman to graduate from the University of Hawaii with a Masters degree. In the 1914-1915 academic year she also became the first woman to teach at the institution. She broke boundaries for women and African Americans, and is a top inspiration to many.

She died on December 31st when she was just 24 years old during her research, but the world hasn’t forgotten her.

2. Dr. Wanda Austin, Aerospace


Doctor Wanda Austin, one of the more recent African American scientists, is the CEO and President of the Aerospace Corporation, a leading corporation involving the nation’s national security space programs. Born and raised in the United States, Austin earned a bachelors’ degree in Mathematics from Franklin and Marshall college, a master’s degree in systems engineering and mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh, and a doctorate in systems engineering from the University of Southern California.

Austin was also selected by President Barack Obama to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). PCAST is an advisory group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers who directly advise the President and the Executive Office of the President. She also received the National Intelligence Medallion for Meritorious Service, the 2012 Horatio Alger award, and many more for her forward thinking ideas and badassery.

3. Yvonne Clark, Mechanical Engineering


Yvonne Clark is the first woman to get a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Howard University. She graduated high school when she was sixteen, her intellectual prowess apparent even at a young age. Clark then went on to work for NASA, RCA, Westinghouse, and Ford. After she graduated in 1951 she found that “the engineering job market wasn’t very receptive to women, particularly women of color”, and continued to achieve the dreams of women in the workforce.

4. Gloria Long Anderson, Chemistry


Gloria learned to read at age four and, due to her parents prioritizing her education, started elementary school. She graduated high school at only sixteen, similar to the paths of the other women that reached phenomenal peaks intellectually. She was later accepted to graduate school at Stanford, but had to decline due to lack of funding, a set back because of her upbringing on a small farm in Arkansas. Anderson grew up in a segregated America and her jobs were limited to the fact that not all were willing to work with an African American, nonetheless a woman. Throughout her career, her research has continued on Fluorine-19 and its interactions with other atoms, using it to probe synthesis reactions. Anderson’s research has also covered epoxidation mechanisms, solid-fuel rocket propellants, antiviral drug synthesis, fluoridated pharmaceutical compounds, and substituted amantadines.  

Slayyyyyyyy, queen.

5. Regina Benjamin, 18th Surgeon General of the United States


Benjamin was announced President Barack Obama’s choice for the position of Surgeon General of The United States and as a Medical Director in the regular corps of the Public Health Service on July 13, 2009. Before accepting the position, Benjamin served on the Board of Trustees for the Morehouse School of Medicine. She graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and received an M.D. there, then completed her residency in family practice at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. Benjamin stated “I had never seen a black doctor before I went to college”, and now here she is, on top of her game and currently serving the White House in the medical field.

So there we have it. Women that have excelled in their fields and are brimming with inspiring stories and strong voices. Who run da world, amirite, ladies?