Dr. Ernest Everett Just was a pioneering black U. S. biologist who spent most of his adult life collecting, classifying, and caring for his marine specimens. He did his graduation from Dartmouth. Racial discrimination was one of the major problems he faced almost all through his life, as a result it was almost not possible for blacks to become faculty members of white colleges or universities. As a result of this discrimination, Just took up teaching position at historically-black Howard University in Washington, D. C. Later in the year 1910, he was given additional responsibility of the newly-formed biology department.
Two years later he became head of the Department of Zoology (musc. edu, 2004). He held this position until his death in the year 1941. In 1915, Just decided to move further up in his career and took break from Howard and enroll in an advanced academic program at the University of Chicago. Meanwhile Just was recognised for his achievements and gained national reputation as an outstanding young scientist.
He was the first recipient of the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal on 12 February 1915. In June of subsequent year, Just received his Doctoral degree in experimental embryology, with a thesis on the mechanics of fertilization, from the University of Chicago. Just became an internationally respected biologist in the next few years. He conducted several thousands of experiments especially in the fertilization of the marine mammal cell and his work was highly respected by biologists in Europe.
In the year 1922, Just successfully disproved Jacque Loeb’s theory of artificial parthenogenesis. Dr. Just published his first book entitled Basic Methods for Experiments on Eggs of Marine Mammals. This book was based on his Woods Hole research. Later Just published more than 50 scientific papers over 20 years based on his research at Woods Hole (Wikipedia, 2007). Even after all his achievements in the academic line, he was very unhappy because of the racial discrimination.
Because of this discrimination he decided to settle in Europe in January 1929. He continued his research activities in Europe and in the same year, he conducted experiments at the zoological station in Naples, Italy. In the year 1930, he became the first American to be invited to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, Germany. This institute is known for several Nobel Prize winners who conducted research. Even though Just kept his roots still in Howard University and continued to be a faculty, he spent most of his time in Germany.
Later he moved to France permanently in 1938 owing to his poor health. In the year 1939, Just published his masterwork, The Biology of the Cell Surface, an important work that summarized his life’s work on small marine mammals. Just died of pancreatic cancer on October 27, 1941. Dr. Just was passionately driven to understand the world of the cell. His persistence and motivation led him to add to the general understanding of the process of artificial parthenogenesis and the physiology of cell development (Barba, 1996).
Dr. Ernest Everett Just was a true scholar as he sought to find “truth” using scientific methods and inquiry. References Barba, R. H. (1996) Ernest Everett Just (1883-1941) Retrieved on 23 October 2007 from http://www2. sjsu. edu/depts/Museum/ernest. html musc. edu, (2004) Dr. Ernest E. Just Bio, Retrieved on 23 October 2007 from http://www. musc. edu/eeo/justbio. html Wikipedia, (2007) Ernest Everett Just Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. , Retrieved on 23 October 2007 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ernest_Everett_Just