The lack of racial diversity within environmental conservation is a persistent problem that is becoming increasingly recognized. Recognizing that diversity is a value important to the conservation sector and that we have not always made the progress we strive to make, we seek to work together to help rectify this shortcoming by striving for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in conservation. Not only is it intrinsically incumbent upon our sector to change practices that contribute to the lack of people of color, but addressing this problem will also make our work more relevant, accessible, and successful. To this end, the Roger Arliner Young (RAY) Conservation Diversity Fellowship focuses on increasing opportunities for people of color to learn about, engage with, and enter the environmental conservation NGO sector. The Fellowships will be designed to support and attract recent college graduates of color with exceptional promise and demonstrated accomplishment who seek to be leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.
Dr. Roger Arliner Young (1889 – November 9, 1964) was an American scientist of zoology, biology, and marine biology. She was the first Black woman to receive a doctorate degree in zoology.
Dr. Young received her Bachelor of Science from Howard University in 1923. Post graduation, she became Assistant Professor of Zoology at Howard University and in 1926, she received a Master of Science in Zoology from the University of Chicago, where she was elected to Sigma Xi, an honor society for biosciences. She then spent summers conducting research at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts working alongside mentor Dr. Ernest Everett Just, where she made a significant contribution to the study of structures that control salt concentration in Paramecium. Later in 1928, she published several notable studies on the effects of direct and indirect radiation on sea urchin eggs. Dr. Young was the first Black woman to conduct and publish research in her field. Dr. Young earned her Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1940 then went on to teach at the North Carolina College for Negroes (North Carolina Central University), Shaw University, Jackson State College and several other colleges in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
Dr. Young was recognized in 2005, in a Congressional Resolution celebrating the accomplishments of those “who have broken through many barriers to achieving greatness in Science”. Amongst the others recognized were Ruth Ella Moore, Euphemia Lofton Haynes, Shirley Ann Jackson, and Mae Jemison.
Why Roger Arliner Young?
By recognizing Dr. Young through the RAY Fellowship Program, we aim to honor a pioneering figure that overcame a myriad of social and personal barriers in her journey to make a pivotal change in the science community. The Fellowship stands by the fact that creating an equitable, engaged, inclusive world is difficult work that requires us all to be engaged authentically, respectfully, and thoughtfully.
Learn more about Dr. Young and how her legacy has influenced the RAY Fellowship Program and a new generation of conservation leaders in "The Little-known Life of the First African American Female Zoologist" by Emi Okikawa (RAY '17).