Black history doesn’t end with Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month coming to a close, we are spotlighting influential Black cell biologists from the past and present with the hopes of inspiring the Black cell biologists of the future. 

Here is a list of Black cell biologists who have (and are currently!) making a difference in their fields and beyond. Special thanks to our invited panelists for sharing with the Life Science Cafe the Black cell biologists that have influenced them. 

This list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope that our readers take the time to search within their own discipline and surroundings to find brilliant people and stories that have been silenced, then take some time to celebrate these individuals, not just in the month of February, but throughout the year.

  • Ernest Everett Just – Howard University –  1883-1941. Multifaceted biologist that advocated for studying cells under normal conditions, as well as studying other aspects of cytology, marine biology, and parthenogenesis.
  • Roger Arliner Young 1899 – 1964. First African American woman to receive a doctorate in Zoology. As a Black woman in academia she was faced with nearly insurmountable obstacles by both the academic institutions and the greater society. Despite these challenges she conducted works that advanced our understanding of cellular osmosis in addition to other scientific contributions to the field of marine biology.
  • George Langford – b. 1944 – Syracuse University.  Former Dean of UMass Amherst (2005-2008). Studies cellular and molecular biology of the actin cytoskeleton in our nerve cells and how disease can effect these systems.
  • Treena Livingston Arinzeh – Columbia University.  Known for her pioneering work in adult stem cell therapy and her outreach to minority students, inviting 40-50 high school students to come into her lab during the summer.
  • Samantha Lewis – UC Berkeley. Leads a highly decorated lab studying the cellular mechanisms of mitochondrial DNA integrity and inheritance.
  • Tessa Burch-Smith – Principle Investigator of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Her and her team are working to understand how plant cells share information between themselves and how viruses interact with these systems to cause disease.

Save the Date!

Welcome back to another great season of Life Science Cafe! We have been busy planning events that will be in-person and streaming live to for our virtual audience. We have four incredible events lined up, the last of which will be held in Spanish with live english translation.  
Join us this season as we welcome some amazing speakers!

Dr. Ana Caicedo Follow-up Post

Thank you everyone who joined in person or virtually for our interview with Dr. Ana Caicedo. Thanks to Dr. Caicedo for telling us the origin story of weedy rice plants and how she studies their evolution. 

For this post we would like to uplift one of Dr. Caicedo’s community oriented projects, The Mind Hears, which is a blog by and for deaf and hard of hearing academics. 

For 2023, we want to make sure our events are more inclusive for our deaf and hard of hearing community members and invite everyone to check out The Mind Hears newest blog post : New Year’s Resolution 2023: Improve accessibility of your workplace for your deaf/HoH colleagues

Some ways in which we can all actively create more inclusive spaces when considering deaf and hard of hearing community member: 

  • Universally design your workspace to be accessible to deaf and hard of hearing folks before you have the need to. 
  • Be aware of the diversity of accommodations that can be requested, such as, enabling closed captioning, acquiring a microphone for an event, or hiring an American Sign Language interpreter. 
  • Put in requests for accommodations even if you yourself are not hard of hearing. 

For more ideas and strategies for facilitating full participation of our deaf and hard of hearing colleagues visit The Mind Hears

We have a few more groups to thank for making our bilingual hybrid event possible:

Thank you Hispanic-American Library, hosted the event in their amazing community space.

Thank you UMass Translation Center for your professional services of live translating from Spanish to English. 

Thank you Amherst Media for training and lending cameras used to record then transmit the event. Thank you for broadcasting our programs on your local television channel. 

Thank you Mexirico Restaurant for catering our event with delicious food! 


Gracias a todas las personas que asistieron en persona o virtualmente a nuestra entrevista con la Dra. Ana Caicedo. Gracias a la Dra. Caicedo por contarnos la historia del origen de las plantas de arroz maleza y cómo estudia su evolución.

Para esta publicación, nos gustaría promocionar uno de los proyectos de la Dra. Caicedo dirigidos a la comunidad, The Mind Hears, el cual es un blog escrito por y para académicos sordos y con problemas de audición.

Para 2023, queremos asegurarnos de que nuestros eventos sean más inclusivos para los miembros de nuestra comunidad de sordos y con problemas de audición e invitamos a todes a ver la publicación más reciente del blog de The Mind Hears:  New Year’s Resolution 2023: Improve accessibility of your workplace for your deaf/HoH colleagues

Algunas formas en las que todes podemos crear activamente espacios más inclusivos al considerar a los miembros de la comunidad de sordos y con problemas de audición:

  • Diseñe universalmente su espacio de trabajo para que sea accesible para las personas sordas y con problemas de audición antes de que usted tenga la necesidad de hacerlo.
  • Tenga en cuenta la diversidad de adaptaciones que se pueden solicitar, como habilitar los subtítulos, adquirir un micrófono para un evento o contratar a un intérprete de lenguaje de señas.
  • Haga solicitudes de tales adaptaciones incluso si usted mismo no tiene problemas de audición.

Para obtener más ideas y estrategias para facilitar la plena participación de nuestros colegas sordos y con problemas de audición, visite The Mind Hears.

Tenemos algunos grupos más que agradecer por ayudarnos a hacer posible nuestro evento híbrido bilingüe:

Gracias al Hispanic-American Library, quien nos prestó su increíble espacio comunitario.

Gracias UMass Translation Center por sus servicios profesionales de traducción en vivo del español al inglés.

Gracias Amherst Media por la capacitación y el dejarnos usar las cámaras para grabar y transmitir el evento. Gracias también por transmitir nuestros programas en su canal de televisión local.

¡Gracias a Mexirico Restaurant  por preparar una comida deliciosa para nuestro evento!

The stories weeds tell us with Dr. Ana Caicedo

Las historias que nos cuentan las malezas con la Dra. Ana Caicedo

This month Life Science Cafe and SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) are excited to once again bring you a cafe entirely in Spanish! (Live Audio Translation to English available for virtual attendees!) Please check out our accessibility statement below. 

Este mes el café de Ciencias Biológicas y SACNAS (Sociedad para el Avance de Chicanos/Hispanos y Nativos Americanos en Ciencia) están emocionades de traerles por otra vez un café totalmente en español. Este café contará con traducción al inglés en vivo disponible para quienes atiende virtualmente. 


Where do weeds come from and why are they so good at being weedy? Join us on Thursday, December 15th at 6pm EST as Dr. Ana Caicedo shares how she uses plant genetics to study weed plant evolution.

¿De dónde vienen las malezas y por qué son tan buenas causando problemas? Únase a nosotres el jueves 15 de diciembre a las 6 p. m. EST mientras la Dra. Ana Caicedo comparte cómo usa la genética de plantas para estudiar la evolución de las malezas.

Come in person! ¡Venga en persona! 

Hispanic-American Library 55 Frank B Murray St., Springfield, MA

Inside Union Station next to Dunkin Donuts. Parking can be found in the Union Station parking garage ($3.50/hr).

Dentro de Union Station al lado de Dunkin Donuts. El estacionamiento se puede encontrar en el estacionamiento de Union Station ($3.50/hr). 

There will be food and drinks provided. 

Habrá comida y bebidas invitadas.

Or attend virtually. Register here. 

O asistir virtualmenteRegistrarse aquí

Dr. Mandy Muller Follow-up

Thank you everyone who joined us for our talk with Dr. Mandy Muller on her amazing work on herpesviruses. We wanted to make this follow up post to highlight a journal we discussed briefly in the café which did a highlight of Dr. Muller on twitter: the CellPress’ journal: Trends Voices. This journal’s goal is to “Amplify research and perspectives on important topics to drive science forward.” We wanted to highlight not only her highlight but the journal itself as we find their goal to “inspire action [and] to address the most pressing social and structural issues that hinder scientific progress” of great importance.

To learn more about the journal and to read some of their pieces please find them here: Trends Voices.

To see the highlight on Dr. Muller please see here: Trends: Muller Lab

Additionally, to see some of Dr. Mullers beautiful art head over to our Instagram where we have made a post to highlight some of her awesome pieces!

Going Viral with Dr. Mandy Muller

Learn about the battle between host cells and herpesviruses! This month we are inviting Dr. Mandy Muller! We will be discussing her work exploring how viruses create major changes in the host cell environment and how, in turn, the host cell reacts to these viral takeovers. 

Please join us in learning about her research on FRIDAY (not Thursday) November 18th at 6pm ET. Register here if you are virtually attending. Or come on by to the Amherst Women’s Club, 35 Triangle St., Amherst, MA 01002, there will be plenty of parking, seating as well as complimentary pizza and beverages! Please see our Accessibility Statement

Once again, this event will not be held on Thursday but instead on FRIDAY!
We hope the deviation from our usual time doesn’t keep you away 🙂

Dr. Salman Hameed

We are back with another great Life Science Café. This month we are inviting Dr. Salman Hameed! He will be talking about his diverse research interests spanning from astronomy to anthropology as well as his science communication outreach. 

Please join us in learning about his research on Thursday, October 27th at 6pm ET. Please register here if you are virtually attending. Or just come on by to the Amherst Women’s Club, 35 Triangle St., Amherst, MA 01002, there will be plenty of parking, seating as well as complimentary pizza and beverages! See our Accessibility Statement below!

Although the use of face masks is not mandatory, we strongly encourage their use for your safety and the safety of others. The event space is wheelchair accessible, but due to the nature of the historic building, the bathrooms unfortunately are not wheelchair accessible. Closed captioning will be available for our virtual audience using Zoom’s live captioning feature & will be projected on screen for our in-person audience. There is ample free parking located in the back and front of the building. The building is about a 9-minute walk from the nearest bus stop (PVTA bus 31). We’re always looking to improve the accessibility of our events for questions about other accommodations or other needs, please contact Sonja Glasser at