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Black Inventors and Innovators - Ernest Just

Updated on February 24, 2011


Ernest Just was born August 14, 1883 in Charleston, South Carolina and died October 27, 1941 in WashingtonDC.  Just’s mother was a teacher and his father worked on the docks.  Just’s father and grandfather died when he was four years old so he had to work in the fields after school to help the family.  Just’s mother decided to send her son to the North to receive a better education. Just attended the KimballAcademy where he excelled graduating one year early with honors and as the valedictorian of his class.  In school Just was the editor of the school newspaper and president of the debating team.

After graduating from high school Just decided to be a research biologist specializing in cytology, the study of cells.  Just received two degrees from DartmouthCollege in history and biology. Just was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity and again was named class valedictorian graduating Magna Cum Laude.

Shortly after graduating Just was hired by HowardUniversity where he would be the head of the biology department, the physiology department and the MedicalSchool faculty member.  While heading these departments Just received a Ph.D in Zoology from the University of Chicago.  Just along with three other Howard students also established the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Just would study marine animals and his research won many awards and accolades most of which came from other countries; because of racism in the United States Just did not get the same approval and had to struggle as a Black man. Just was recruited to work in Russia, Italy and France at some of the more prestigious scientific research laboratories where he would conduct research and shared his ideas. 

Just studied the fertilization of the marine mammal cell and he would advocate the study of whole cells under normal conditions instead of breaking the cell apart in a laboratory as was being done. Because of his research Just would refute Jacques Loeb's (a well respected German biologist) theory of artificial parthenogenesis, and conducted respected research in genetics, cytology, and embryology, with significant works on cell surfaces and walls, and the mechanics of egg fertilization.

While Just was in France Germany invaded France and Just became a prisoner of war for a short period of time until he was rescued and sent home.  As a prisoner of war Just became very sick and was diagnosed with cancer, he died shortly after. Just was excelled academically and was an outstanding zoologist who was completely underrated in his own country.  Just had a great deal to offer the world with his studies and continued to strive through the adversities that he faced.  



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    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      7 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you ocbill! I enjoyed doing this research!

    • ocbill profile image


      7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      I really enjoy reading history like this. I rally did not think is possible but it shows how a person can overcome, to an extent, obstacles in society. These are great. Thanks

    • Triplet Mom profile imageAUTHOR

      Triplet Mom 

      7 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Hello Hello!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      I thank you for your wonderful work. How sad the POW cut his life short.


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