Every summer, as part of the MDI Biological Laboratory‘s year-round seminar series, we have two named, endowed lectures: the Kinter Lecture, named in memory of Dr. William B. Kinter, who did environmental toxicology research at the Laboratory, including seminal work on DDT and crude oil, and the Cserr Lecture, named in memory of Dr. Helen F. Cserr, who studied the blood-brain barrier at the Laboratory for twenty summers.

The Cserr Lecture is traditionally given by a woman, in part because Professor Cserr was part of the 1974 class-action lawsuit against Brown University, “charging sex discrimination in hiring, promotion, renewal of contracts, and granting of tenure”. It was one of the pioneering academic discrimination cases of the 70s. For more on this and other cases, check out Margaret Rossiter’s Women Scientists in America (Volume 3): Forging a New World since 1972.

If you follow me on Twitter know, you know I’m vocal about the importance of diverse participation in science and society. As a member of the seminar committee, then, I decided to get together a list of women of color to suggest for the Cserr lecture. First I needed to educate myself more about women of color working at the highest levels (i.e. tenured professor or equivalent) in the relevant fields, which include but are not limited to molecular and cellular biology, neurobiology, physiology, and genetics.

A tall order, you say? Apparently not tall enough to stop the tweets from rolling in. Here, then, is a working list of women of color working at the tops of their fields, of molecular/cellular biology, neurobiology, and genetics. It’s a “working list” because I hope it will grow; if think of more, please tweet or leave a comment. Self-nominations welcome.

Update: This post was originally titled “A working list of eminent women of color in biology” but as Terry McGlynn rightly notes, my use of the word eminent “practices exclusivity, countering the main goal”.


  1. Thanks! I’ve added Sarah K. England but could you give me a link for Sharon Jackson? That’s a common name and it’s not obvious who she is in my Google results.

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