Percy Lavon Julian, the pioneering chemist who gained international notoriety by overcoming segregation obstacles, is celebrated and honored today with the Google Doodle.
Originally from Montgomery, Alabama, Julian received his degree from DePauw University and was then awarded a scholarship to earn his masters from Harvard University. When Harvard denied Julian the ability to continue on with his education to earn his doctorate, he became a teacher at other black colleges prior to earning is Ph.D. from in Austria at the University of Vienna.
He worked to synthesize chemicals from various plants in order to create medicine for inflammatory illnesses and glaucoma. However, the chemist has earned the majority of his notoriety from synthesizing female and male hormones derived from soybean oil and then later in his career developing a cortisone synthetic substitute. This substitute was affordable and effective, which meant that more people gained access to a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
Julian also developed a number of other chemical advancements, which included a product known as Aero-Foam, which was based from soy and used for fire extinguishing during the period of World War II.
Due to the fact he was an African American, Julian faced a number of denials for opportunities to work with large companies during his career, although he held over 100 patents and was the recipient of 19 honorary doctorates. He was entered into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990 and the U.S. Postal Service honored him in 1993 by placing his picture on a Black Heritage Commemorative stamp.
Percy Julian died on this date in 1975 – now honored in a Google Doodle for this date.
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