In celebration of Black History Month, I want to honor Percy Lavon Julian, a black scientist who was instrumental in learning how to produce steroids in the lab from plant compounds into steroid medications, progesterone, and compounds that help people with glaucoma and prevent blindness, which is an important topic for me.
Percy grew up and worked in an era where it was very difficult for blacks educationally and professionally. He faced discrimination in housing in Chicago as well as at his workplace, but he persevered and maintained not only his integrity, but his commitment to excellence in his research. Toward the end of his life, he was finally elected to the National Academy of Science, an honor he should have received much earlier. He remained committed to finding solutions for problems no one had seen before.
Percy’s commitment to helping better the world through science is truly an inspiration.