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New Jersey Trailblazers in STEM

Journal Staff Report | 2/10/2016, noon
African Americans have made numerous contributions to science and medicine.
Following its unveiling in 2011, invited guests and speakers pose in front of the public artwork depicting Dr. Bascom Waugh and Dr. Lewis Coriell at Triangle Park in Camden, NJ.

African Americans have made numerous contributions to science and medicine. The following are brief biographies of three African Americans who were either born or worked in New Jersey who have made contributions.

Dr. Meridith Groudine (1929-1998) converted natural gas to electricity for everyday use

Dr. Groudine built a multi-million dollar corporation that is based on his ideas in the field of electrogasdynamics (EGD). Using the principles of EGD, Gourdine successfully converted natural gas to electricity for everyday use. Applications of EGD include refrigeration, desalination of sea water, and reducing the pollutants in smoke. He holds more than 40 patents for various inventions and in 1964, served on the President’s Panel on Energy. He was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1929 and grew up in the streets of Harlem and Brooklyn. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and received a Ph.D. in Engineering Science from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

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Dr. Bascom S. Waugh

Dr. Bascom S. Waugh first African American physician at Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center

The giant interpretive art panels on permanent display at a community park located in the Cooper Plaza neighborhood in Camden City depicts the image of Dr. Bascom S. Waugh, MD, (1909-1992), the first African American physician at Cooper Hospital-University Medical Center.

Dr. Waugh, a Camden physician, made house calls for more than 50 years.

He "was very dedicated to providing services to the community of Camden," said his daughter, Dr. Dyann Waugh of Hyattsville, Md in an obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "He never considered moving his office anywhere else."

"Throughout his career Dr. Waugh made house calls and took patients regardless of whether they had the money to pay," said his daughter. "Every once in a while he would bring home eggs that someone had given him for payment."

In 1950, Dr. Waugh, became the first African-American doctor to join the medical staff at Cooper. A World War II Veteran, Dr. Waugh was a flight surgeon for the 332nd Fighter Group, the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. According to a 2007 Air Force School of Medicine report, Dr. Waugh was one of the first two African-American doctors to be trained alongside white physicians in the Army’s School of Aviation near San Antonio. He joined 17 other African American flight surgeons supporting the approximately 1,000 Tuskegee-trained pilots, and he was one of only six who served in combat during the war. When he returned from the war in 1946, Dr. Waugh opened a family medicine practice in Camden, where he worked for more than 50 years until he died in 1992.

In 2011, Cooper honored Dr. Waugh, MD and the late Lewis L. Coriell, MD, PhD, (1911-2001) with giant interpretive art panels depicting the two local luminaries with a permanent display at a revitalized community park located in the Cooper Plaza neighborhood in Camden City.

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Dr. James E. West, inventor of Electret Microphone

Dr. James E. West (1931-present) inventor of Electret Microphone

Dr. West and colleague, Gerhard Sessler, developed the mic (Electroacoustic Transducer Electret Microphone that is most in use today officially while with Bell Labs, Murray Hill, NJ and they received a patent for it in 1962.

The acoustical technologies employed became widely used because of its high performance, reliability and acoustical accuracy and because it is lightweight and cost effective.

West started at Bell labs and joined them full-time in 1957 after graduating from Temple University. West has received numerous awards and honors including 1995 Inventor of the Year from the State of New Jersey and induction in the Inventors Hall of Fame in 1999. He holds 47 patents and more than 200 foreign patents from his 40 year career with Bell Laboratories.