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Jewel Plummer Cobb has come a long way. She lived in the time of segregation, and faced many educational difficulties because of it. However, she is still one of the smartest and most successful African American scientists.
Jewel Plummer Cobb was born on January 17, 1924. Her home town is Chicago, Illinois. Cobb was born to Frank V. Plummer and Carribel (Cole) Plummer. Her father was a graduate of Cornell University, and a physician. Cobb's mother was a dance instructor an a physical education teacher. Cobb's grandfather was a graduate of Howard University and later became a pharmacist. As you can tell, Cobb mainly took after her father and grandfather because both of them were in the field of science.
Cobb had a successful education in the sciences that all went back to her sophomore year of high school when she looked through a microscope and saw the cells. That was when she was inspired. That was also when she decided to be a physician. After being an honors student in high school and graduating, Cobb decided what and where she was going to study. Cobb wanted to study disease, not medical properties. Her first choice was the University of Michigan. She didn't like the racism there, so she went to Talladega College in Alabama and earned her B.A. in biology.
After earning her B.A., Cobb turned to New York University for a fellowship. She at first was turned down because of her skin color, but in 1945 she got the fellowship because of her strong credentials. While Cobb was there, she earned her M.S. and in 1950 earned her PhD. in cell physiology. After earning her PhD., she entered the field of research. She wanted to research the process of living cells. She researched with Dorothy Walker Jones and looked at how human cancer cells are affected by drugs. After this, she was a fellow at the National Cancer Institute. She then went back to New York University and worked there as an assistant professor in research surgery from 1956-1960.
Her career led her to many very important jobs. Her first job was a professor at Sarah Lawrence College from 1960-1969. While Cobb was there, she did research on skin pigmentation. She researched on how melanin can protect skin from ultraviolet damage. Her most important research was on skin cancers and the difference between cancerous and normal pigment cells. Cobb wrapped up her research there with the studies of chemotherapeutic drugs. She became the dean of Connecticut College from 1969-1976. There she taught zoology. Cobb's next job was as a professor of biology sciences at Douglass College, a college at Rutgers University. From 1976-1981, Cobb was president of California State University, Fullerton. There she raised private funds for a gerontology center. She raised state funds for an engineering and computer science building. Another job Cobb had was as Trustee Professor at California State University, Los Angeles in 1990. She has also served as the principal investigator for the ACCESS program which helps other minorities like her become enrolled in premedical and predental studies. Jewel Plummer Cobb had a lot of important jobs! She has been awarded twenty two honorary doctorates!
Jewell Plummer married Roy Cobb in 1954. They had one son, Jonathon Cobb, in 1957.They later divorced in 1967. Cobb's role model has always been her father. He was the person Cobb always looked up to. She is the third generation in her family to pursue a career in science. She is using her education and experience to help minority students including women follow their dreams for a career in the sciences.