Speaker Bio: Professor Byrnes completed his undergraduate studies in chemistry at Xavier University of Louisiana (1981) and then went on to obtain a PhD in biochemistry from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge (1994). He was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Since 2001, he has been at Howard University, where his research has centered on the structure and function of metabolic enzymes, mainly from Archaea and Bacteria. In recent years, Byrnes has developed a keen interest in the scientific legacy of Ernest Everett Just, and he has written several papers on Just's scientific contributions and their importance. In 2008, he organized, together with Stuart Newman of New York Medical College, an NSF-funded symposium honoring the legacy of E. E. Just (see eejsymposium.com). Many of the speakers at the symposium contributed papers to a special issue of the journal Molecular Reproduction and Development, published the following year (volume 76, issue 10)
Abstract: E. E. Just (1883-1941) was a brilliant African American scientist who made lasting contributions to biology despite almost overwhelming obstacles. A native of South Carolina and a graduate of Dartmouth College (BS, 1907) and the University of Chicago (PhD, 1916), Just was an embryologist whose research interests lay in unraveling the mysteries of fertilization and early development in marine invertebrates. His work has relevance to a range of areas today, including evolutionary developmental biology and in vitro fertilization. A professor at Howard University throughout his career, Just did research both at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and in Europe, mainly at various locations in Italy, Germany and France. A bold spokesman for the embryologist's systems-oriented view, he was not afraid to take on prominent scientists with whom he disagreed. The overall goal of this talk is to highlight the legacy of Just. Specifically, it aims to: (1) give an overview of Just's life, placing it in the context of the social, scientific and cultural milieu of the time; (2) outline Just's scientific contributions; (3) indicate how his contributions are relevant today in a number of areas; and (4) show how Just's story highlights the importance of diversity in science.
Last Updated: 3/15/13