Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

Dale Emeagwali honored as
`Scientist of the Year'


By Willie Givens

When Dale Brown Emeagwali was a child, she had dreams of becoming a scientist.

But she did not anticipate the depth of her ambition. She was studious - always at the top of her class. She had the support of her parents who, though not academicians, encouraged her pursuits, even helping her at home with simple experiments.

Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor
Dale Emeagwali

Today, this renowned microbiologist is celebrating her achievements, the latest - the National Technical Association's "1996 Scientist of the Year" award. The citation was presented to Dr. Emeagwali, Oct. 18, at the annual National Technical Achiever-of-the-year Awards Banquet at the Marriott Airport Hotel in Cleveland. Congressman Louis Stokes, (D-Ohio) presented the award.

Dr. Emeagwali was one of six African Americans honored at the convention. She was honored for her contributions to the field of microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry.

The award recognizes researches regarded as role models and inspirations to other scientists whose discoveries have benefited mankind.

Dr. Emeagwali gives the most credit for her success as a scientist to her parents, Leon and Doris Brown.

Mr. Brown retired from the AFRO-American in 1988 after serving the paper for 42 years, primarily as superintendent of the production department. Her mother is a retired Baltimore city public school teacher.

Dr. Emeagwali was born in the Poplar Grove-Lafayette Avenue section of the city. She attended Alexander Hamilton Elementary School # 145, and went on to Northwestern High School, graduation in 1972.

She entered Coppin State College and graduate in 1976. In the Fall of that year, Dr. Emeagwali enrolled at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington. She was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy in microbiology, in 1981.

She credits her success at Georgetown to "good teachers as good training" at Coppin State, we well as a summer internship at Meharry Medical School.

The move to Georgetown and away from her family was a "cultural shock, " she said.

Of coping with the challenges she says: "I was always ahead in my class and I held on to that ambition. I felt I had the ability to easily assimilate, regardless of race of class."

While a research fellow at the University of Minnesota, Mrs. Emeagwali and her husband, Philip, a Nigerian-born scientists, spearheaded, among other things, the annual African American Science Day, organized by staff members at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

The project was designed to provide role models for African-American kids.

While keeping kids interested in science is a problem that - crosses racial lines, she said it is particularly acute in the Black culture.

Dr. Emeagwali, encountered more than a few obstacles growing up, which she said made her even more determined to become a scientist. She grew up at a time when Black people were told, "You can't do math. We were taught inadvertently, and sometimes directly, that we couldn' t do that," she said. "When a Black child said he wanted to be a doctor, he was slapped upside the head and told to stop being simple."

Drawing from her childhood experiences. Dr. Emeagwali has always maintained that the success of children depends on the character of their parents.

"Parents must always stress the importance of education and achievement to their children. When kids know there are low expectations, they won't rise," she says.

She said she also held strongly to the belief that learning should be broadly focused to include math, literature and engineering. "It' s important not awards and honors including listings in Who's Who in the World, the World Who's Who of Women, Who's Who in American Education, International Who's Who in Medicine.

She has been awarded a number of prestigious fellowship-from the Uniformed Services University Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Damon Runyon Walter Winchell Cancer Fund, American Cancer Society, and the National Science Foundation.

She also received doctoral fellowship Fund, ad a national scholarship from the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Additionally, other accomplishments include the discovery of the existence of isozymes of kynurenine formamidase in the basterium Streptomyces parvulus which, prior to her findings, were known only to exist in higher organisms.

Dr. Emeagwali also proved that cancer gene expression could be inhibited by antisense methodoloy, which she says can led to better treatment for cancer.

Early this year, Dr. Emeagwali happily returned to her native Baltimore- her family and friends-and joined the biology faculty at Morgan State University.

Dr. Emeagwali enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise with students, promoting academic excellence, attracting students to science and conducting science workshops for inner city youths.

Her hobbies include karate, painting and publishing poems, one of which appeared in the "Atlantic Monthly." She and her husband have one son.

Reported by Willie Givens
The Editor, Afro-American
November , 1996, Baltimore, Maryland.

Related Pages

  1. Professor Dale Emeagwali's Achievements
  2. Dale's Photos
  3. Wedding Photos
  4. More Photos
  5. Museum helps bring students and science together
  6. Guestbook
  7. Contemporary Black Biography
Additional Info (for school projects)

Dale Emeagwali was born on December 24, 1954 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor

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Philip Emeagwali, biography, A Father of the Internet, supercomputer pioneer, Nigerian scientist, inventor