Alice Augusta Ball
Ball was born in Seattle, Washington to a middle class family. She earned two bachelor's degrees in pharmaceutical chemistry and pharmacy from the University of Washington in 1912 and 1914 respectively. In 1914, she co-authored a paper titled, ‘Benzoylations in Ether Solution’ with her advisor which was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. In 1915, she was the first African American and woman to graduate with an MSc in chemistry from the University of Hawaii and was subsequently hired as a chemistry instructor at the university, also becoming the first African American and woman to hold this position.
Ball researched on developing an injectable form of chaulmoogra oil to treat patients with Hansen disease (leprosy). During her research she fell ill and passed on at the premature age of 24. It was not until 1922 that she was credited for her research contributions. In 2000, Ball was honored with a plaque which was mounted on the only chaulmoogra tree on the University of Hawaii campus. She was also posthumously awarded with the Regents’ Medal of Distinction by the university in 2007. Her research efforts helped treat leprosy patients until the advent of sulfone drugs in the 1940s.