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Honoring Minorities in the Sciences

Two years ago, a Smith sophomore and her fellow students sought to create an event that commemorated the contributions of those in minority populations to science and medical fields.

This week, Feb. 19-23, Mary Banks ’07 and a group she helped found, the Smith chapter of the Minority Association of Pre-health Students (MAPS), is celebrating the third annual Minorities in the Sciences Week, a mini-series of events.

For the second straight year, MAPS teamed with the Union of Underrepresented Science Students (UUSS) to produce the series, which includes a film screening, a workshop on careers in medicine and the sciences, and a “scientist trivia game” and raffle.

The weeklong series is held in honor of Percy Lavon Julian (1899-1975), a groundbreaking American chemist who received more than 130 chemical patents during his career, and whose research led to the birth control pill and cortisone. Julian was the first African American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences.

Minorities in the Sciences Week continues the theme celebrated during Otelia Cromwell Day last fall. That week-long series, titled “Science, ‘Race,’ and Society,” explored race and the ethics of science, and racism in the history of science, including the omission of African-American scientists from historical records.

“It is important for the community to recognize that minorities are in the sciences,” says Banks, “and that they have made great contributions. I wish to crush the stereotype that many minorities are not involved in advanced fields.”

Minorities in the Sciences Week will kick off on Monday, Feb. 19, with an address by Karen Sarena Morris, a recent graduate with a Doctor of Medicine degree from Yale School of Medicine, who had entered Yale’s program at age 40 while raising four children, one of whom had a child of her own. Morris is assumed to be the first to enter Yale’s medical school as a grandparent. She will speak at 4:30 p.m. in the Mwangi Cultural Center, located at Davis Center.

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, the film Forgotten Genius, a production of the PBS series Nova about Percy Julian, will be screened at 7 p.m. in McConnell B05.

A CDO workshop, “Careers in Medicine and Science,” will take place on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 3 p.m. in Campus Center 205.

The week will close on Friday, Feb. 23, with a trivia game and raffle at noon in Campus Center 103-104.

“It’s important to honor those scientists who were never recognized for their genius and hard work,” says Banks. “Minorities will benefit by learning about scientists who look like them and have succeeded in these fields.”

For more information about Minorities in the Sciences Week, send email to or

2/16/07   By Eric Sean Weld
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