Ernest Everett Just the pioneer of marine biology and zoology

A young man and an awesome researcher, finding cure for sickle cell anaemia and cancer. It's the biography of Ernest E. Just by Anhad Kaur

Who is Ernest E. Just

  • Name- Ernest Just
  • Full name- Ernest Everett Justin
  • Lifespan- 1883-1941
  • Birthplace- Charleston, South California, U.S.
  • Birth anniversary- August 14, 1883
  • Parents- Mary Mathews Just and Charles Frazier Just Jr.

Childhood and Education

Ernest’s mother worked as a school teacher. His father, a dock worker, died only when he was four. This forced him to do child labor in such a young age. Everyday after school, he would go and work in the fields. Because high schools in the South provided such poor education at that time, Ernest’s mother decided to send him North to receive better schooling. Through hard work, Ernest was able to earn enough money to attend the Kimball Academy in New Hampshire. The Kimball Academy was an exclusive school and Just proved himself worthy by excelling in his classes. As the editor of the school newspaper and President of the debating team, Ernest completed the four year program in only three years. He graduated with honors as the topper of his class. In 1903, Just entered Dartmouth College and decided to become a research- biologist specializing in cytology (the study of cells). Learning under the guidance of world famous zoologist William Patten, Just excelled and received degrees in history and biology. Upon graduation in 1907, he had already been elected to the Phi Beta Kappa honors fraternity, was named class valedictorian and was the only member of his class to graduate Magna Cum Laude.

His scientific journey was just about begin.

Professional life

In October 1907, Ernest Just was hired by Howard University in Washington, D.C. and would eventually become the head of the biology department while also heading the physiology department and serving as a member of the Medical School’s faculty. Ernest ad so many responsibilities. But still, he was able to get his PhD. in Zoology. He received the degree from the University of Chicago in 1916. He experimented with the reproductive systems and cells of marine animals in the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He did such a great job on research and papers on marine biology, that in 1915, in the age of 32, Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Over the next 20 years, Just would perform studies on marine animals and their eggs as well as on their cell structures. He believed that in learning about healthy cells and cell structures, man could hope to understand and find cures for cellular irregularities and diseases such as sickle cell anemia and cancer. He also researched parthenogenesis (developing marine eggs without fertilization). He quickly became one of the most respected scientists in his field. Unfortunately, most of this recognition was coming from foreign country because of black racism in America.

Personal life

Ernest E. Just married Ethel. He had 3 children. One of them was Margaret Just Butcher. She wrote a book called “Negro in the American Culture”.

"The Negro in the American Culture"


  • Got the first Spingarn Medal
  • Pursued a Ph.D. in Zoology
  • Received degrees in history and biology
  • Amazing research and papers on marine biology
  • Brilliant research on cytology
  • Made the 1st black fraternity- Omega Psi Phi


During World War II, Just was working at the Station Biologique in Roscoff, researching on unsolved problems of biology. Even though the French government requested the foreigners to evacuate, Ernest still continued his research. Germany invaded France and Ernest was imprisoned. Just was rescued by the U.S. state department. But he was really ill and people came to know he was suffering from pancreatic cancer. He died shortly after that.

Interesting facts

  • Ernest Just’s obstacles was discrimination because he was a black and the death of his father was also a burden on him
  • The book, Black Apollo of Science: The Life Ernest Everett Just, is dedicated to Ernest E. Just
  • A stamp features the photo of Ernest
  • Just is in the list of 100 greatest African Americans

Time for the overview of the life of Beverly Mascoll.

Significance of Ernest Just in his field

Ernest Just's has done amazing an research in marine biology and zoology. Because of his studies, science is at this level. His research is helping us find cure for cancer and sickle cell anemia as the biologist was specialized in cytology. Humans are one day going find cure to these diseases for sure. Thanks to Ernest for his research.

Why did I choose Ernest Just?

Though I am interested in business and technology, the mysteries of biology still mesmerizes me. Because of this biologist, I have learned something new in this field. I hope one day, humans will find cure for diseases like cancer and sickle cell anemia. I hope he would have been with us today. He would have been filled with joy to see respect for black people in America.

for your kind attention


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