Jewel Isadora Plummer Cobb

Cobb, Jewel Isadora Plummer (1924-) is an American biologist known both for her research in cell biology and for promoting science education among minorities and women.

Jewel Isadora Plummer was born on Jan. 17, 1924, in Chicago. Her father, Frank, was a physician, and her mother, Carriebel Cole Cobb, was a dancer who taught physical education. Jewel grew up talking science around the dinner table, and she became interested in biology at an early age. As an African American, she encountered racism early in life, but she did not allow prejudice to curb her ambition to become a scientist. She completed her undergraduate studies in biology at Talladega College in Alabama in 1944 and then accepted a fellowship to teach and study cell biology at New York University (NYU), where she earned an M.A. degree in cell physiology in 1947 and a Ph.D. degree in 1950. In 1954, she married Roy Raul Cobb, an insurance salesman, and the couple had a son, Roy Jonathan. They divorced in 1967.

Cobb conducted extensive skin cancer research, including important studies on how pigment cells function normally and how they become cancerous. She also studied how certain drugs affect cancer cells. She has held many teaching and administrative positions, including professor of biology at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, from 1960 to 1969, dean of Douglass College at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, from 1976 to 1981. and president of California State University at Fullerton from 1981 to 1990.

Cobb is also known for her efforts to promote science education among minorities and women. In 1993, the National Science Foundation presented her with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to the advancement of women and minorities in science.