Ernest Everett Just

Ernest Everett Just

Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, USA
Death 27 Oct 1941 (aged 58)
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Burial Suitland, Prince George's County, Maryland, USA
Plot Section 1 plot # 226, Site# 12
Memorial ID 7656429 · View Source
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Scientist. He was a biologist, zoologist, physiologist and research scientist in the field of physical chemistry. Also a founder of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity at Howard University (November 17, 1911). He pioneered the fields of biology and chemistry at a time when it was extremely difficult for African-Americans to get a scientific education. He overcame many obstacles to leave a scientific legacy for generations to come studying cell life and human metabolism. In addition, he explored egg fertilization. In fact, he was the first person to unlock the secret of cell function and structure. He was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and grew up in an atmosphere of learning. His father Charles Frazier Just died of alcoholism when he was age 4 and his mother Mary Matthews Just later died when Just was in his teens. Just early years were spent at Kimball Academy, a preparatory school in New Hampshire, then entering Dartm! outh College (now Dartmouth University) in 1903 where he was the only African-American in his class. He later switched his major from Greek to biology graduating (the only African-American in the graduating class of 287) in 1907 magna cum laude and winning virtually every prize there was to win including the Phi Beta Kappa key, which is the highest scholastic award a student can receive as an undergraduate. He also received honors in sociology, history, botany and zoology. Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga wanted him, though he accepted a job as instructor in English and rhetoric at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Just popularity as a teacher became legendary, in 1911 he helped Howard students form Omega Psi Phi, which became a national black fraternity (the first African-American Fraternity founded on a predominantly Black Campus) and he was made a full professor in 1912. That same year he established and became the head of Howard's Department of Zoology. Just also served there as a professor in the medical school and head of the Department of Physiology until his death. In 1915, the first Spingarn Medal was awarded to the reluctant and modest Just by the NAACP for his accomplishments as a pure scientist. He later received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1916 graduating magna cum laude, receiving his doctorate in experimental embryology. Just received international acclaim for work he completed during the summers from 1909 to 1930 at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. At MBL, he conducted thousands of experiments studying the fertilization of the marine mammal cell. In 1922, he successfully challenged Jaacque Loeb's theory of artificial parthenogenesis, pushing the envelope. Using his research conducted at Wood's Hole, he published his first book entitled, Basic Methods fo! r Experiments on Eggs of Marine Mammals. He made pioneering contributions to studies of the cytology and embryology of marine organisms. In 1925 he demonstrated the cancer-engendering effects of ultraviolet radiation on cells. Just spent his latter years in Europe to escape racism in American laboratories. There he published his second book, "The Biology of Cell Surface". Begining in 1929, Just undertook a series of extended research tours to Italy, Germany, and France that lasted until 1940. Already ill with pancreatic cancer, he spent his final year mending rifts with the administration of Howard University. As his health worsened, he moved into his sister's Washington, D.C., home, where he died. His scholarship and dignified bearing earned him the sobriquet "Black Apollo of Science."

Bio by: Curtis Jackson

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Curtis Jackson
  • Added: 5 Jul 2003
  • Find a Grave Memorial 7656429
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ernest Everett Just (14 Aug 1883–27 Oct 1941), Find a Grave Memorial no. 7656429, citing Lincoln Memorial Cemetery, Suitland, Prince George's County, Maryland, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .