Marie Daly

African Americans remain largely underrepresented in STEM, but their contributions to the advancement of knowledge have been significant. Black History Month is a great reminder to recognize the black female scientists who have advanced their fields, and to help inspire the next generation to join their ranks. This WiSE Wednesday, we honor Marie M. Daly, the first African-American woman to receive a chemistry Ph.D. in the U.S.. Marie was born in New York in 1921 to parents who, despite financial hardship, worked hard to instill in their daughter a love of learning. Marie never let economic constraints hold her back – aided by fellowships, she worked her way through a B.S. at Queens College, a master’s degree from NYU, and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. After obtaining her doctorate in only three years, she went on to teach at Columbia and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University. Throughout her career, Daly investigated a variety of biochemical topics including protein synthesis and atherosclerosis. Inspired by her father’s determination to provide her with a quality education that he was denied, Marie established a scholarship at Queens College in his honor. This scholarship aids minority chemistry and physics students, helping to foster diversity in the sciences. Marie passed away in 2003, but her legacy lives on. In 2016, a public elementary school in New York was named the “Dr. Marie M. Daly Academy of Excellence,” providing students with a constant reminder of what they can achieve.