MCB and OEB faculty Cassandra Extavour, MCO Assistant Director Fanuel Muindi, and 998 other Black scientists were recently highlighted in a blog post titled “1000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America” on Cell Mentor, a career development resource hosted by Cell Press. The post was compiled by an organization called The Community of Scholars, which is dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion across STEM fields.
“Black talent is both ubiquitous and abundant, but the excellence of Black people is often obscured,” they wrote in the introduction to the post. “To remove the bleach from the history books, the Community of Scholars formed this list of inspiring Black scientists. We are also here to dismantle the myth that outstanding Black scientists make up a small percentage of the scientific community.”
Muindi says that last point resonated with him, adding, “For me, the point here is that we are more than just percentages. By thinking beyond the numbers, one finds that black scientists are working on an impressive diversity of questions ranging from the single molecule to the universe. The diversity of questions they are asking in addition to their human stories in science are important to highlight, study, and celebrate. I think it is critical to provide more opportunities to amplify the voices of these black scientists so that we can learn more about their work and also, who they are. The list put together by The Community of Scholars provides another avenue for amplifying many black scientist voices.”
The list includes distinguished researchers, leading clinicians, successful entrepreneurs, and celebrated educators who work in a wide range of STEM fields, from medicine to mathematics.
Extavour’s research is in the evolution and development of reproductive systems, with an emphasis on studying how embryonic cells become germ cells. Meanwhile, Muindi’s contributions to STEM include managing the operations of the MCO Graduate Program and leading the Stem Advocacy Institute (SAI).
Cell Press followed up on the initial “1000 Inspiring Black Scientists” list with a second post titled “100 more inspiring Black scientists in America.”
“I’m glad that people took the time to put together this list and hope that it helps especially early career Black scientists and students feel encouraged to know that there are professional Black scientists out there,” Extavour says. “However, the sad reality remains that many of these young scientists and many of those established scientists on the list are studying and working in a place where there are not even 10 other Black scientists, let alone 1000.”
“I am very humbled and honored to be included on the list of inspiring black scientists!” Muindi says. “In looking at the other names, I am left inspired by all the wonderful research that is being done by other black scientists around the US. I am excited to continue to do my part in inspiring the next generation through my own work exploring the intersection of science and society, and continue to build on the list which I have no doubt will expand in no time.”