Google Doodle Celebrates Black Chemist Percy Lavon Julian’s Birthday


Today, Google salutes pioneering chemist Percy Lavon Julian with a Google doodle on what would have been his 115th birthday.

Julian was born on April 11, 1899, in Montgomery, Ala. at a time when blacks were not provided public education post-eight grade. Despite this, Julian he went to DePauw University in Indiana where he excelled, graduating with Phi Beta Kappa and valedictory honors in 1920. From there he went on to earn his master’s degree at Harvard and his Ph.D. at the University of Vienna.

After becoming the first African-American to receive a doctorate, Julian turned to research. His research led to advances in birth control and treatments for glaucoma and other inflammatory illnesses. His most notable accomplishments was successfully synthesizing male and female hormones from soybean oil to create a synthetic cortisone substitute. His cortisone substitute created a inexpensive, yet effective, treatment for rheumatoid arthritis that was more accessible to all.

Before dying in 1975, Julian had more than a dozen honorary degrees and more than 100 patents to his name. He became the first African American chemist inducted into the National Academy of Sciences. Posthumously, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990.

To learn more about Percy Lavon Julian, click here.

(Photo Credit: Google)