Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by WonderTeam. WonderTeam Wonders, “Who was Marie Maynard Daly?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, WonderTeam!

If you’ve been WONDERing with us for a while, you may already know a bit about DNA. You may have read about cholesterol and blood pressure. Without the person at the center of today’s Wonder of the Day, scientists may not know as much as they do about these topics. Who are we talking about? Marie Maynard Daly, of course!

Marie Maynard Daly was born in New York City on April 16, 1921. As a kid growing up in the city’s Queens borough, she loved to read. In this, she took after her mother, who read to Daly as a child. Books about science were her favorite.

Daly grew up in a family that valued education. In fact, Daly’s father studied chemistry at Cornell University after moving to the U.S. from the West Indies. However, he never finished his degree due to financial difficulty.

In high school, Daly made it clear that she hoped to follow in her father’s footsteps. She planned to complete a college degree in chemistry. Daly graduated from Hunter College High School and continued her education at Queens College.

In 1942, Daly graduated college with honors and went to work as a lab assistant. But she didn’t stop there! Daly continued her studies at New York University and then Columbia University. In 1947, she became the first Black American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry.

For the rest of her career, Daly worked as a biochemist. That means she used chemistry to learn about living things. Specifically, Daly studied cholesterol. In fact, we have her to thank for linking cholesterol to high blood pressure.

Daly also studied a special type of protein called histones. They help form the chromosomes that make up cells. Daly’s work in this area helped lead future scientists to a better understanding of the organization of DNA.

In addition to these accomplishments, Daly spent many years as a college professor. She also worked hard to bring more non-white students into science fields of study. Daly even started a scholarship in memory of her father at Queens College.

Marie Maynard Daly passed away on October 28, 2003. Today, she’s remembered for her invaluable work in the field of science. Which of Daly’s accomplishments do you think was most impactful?

Standards: CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.L.2, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

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