Jeannette Brown with her book and awards

Jeannette Brown Lectureship

The Department of Chemistry established the Jeannette Brown Lectureship to honor the career and legacy of one of its outstanding alumna. This lectureship will bring experts in all fields of chemistry from around the world to the University of Minnesota, with emphasis on highlighting the work and careers of Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the chemical sciences. The lectureship reflects and celebrates the pioneering work of Jeannette Brown as a talented chemist in the pharmaceutical industry for 25 years, author, historian, and tireless leader and advocate for the inclusion and advancement of African American women in chemistry-related professional pursuits and careers.

Jeannette Brown in the lab

Jeannette Brown is the first African American to receive a degree from the Department of Chemistry's graduate program, earning her master's degree in 1958. She is a former faculty associate in the Department of Pre-College Programs at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. For 25 years, she worked as a research chemist at Merck. She is the author of two books, "African American Women Chemists" and "African American Women Chemists in the Modern Era." She is a Société de Chimie Industrielle (American Section) Fellow of the Chemical Heritage Foundation (2004), and is a member of the first class of American Chemical Society (ACS) Fellows (2009). For her distinguished service to professionalism, she received the Henry Hill Award from the ACS Division of Professional Relations in 2020. For her work as a mentor to minority students and science education advocacy, she was elected to the Hunter College Hall of Fame in 1991; was honored by the University of Minnesota with an Outstanding Achievement Award in 2005; and received the ACS national award for Encouraging Disadvantaged Students into Careers in the Chemical Sciences in 2005.

The Jeannette Brown Lectureship is sponsored by Merck and by donations to the Jeannette Brown Lectureship Fund.

Donate to the Jeannette Brown Lectureship

Headshot photograph of Squire Booker

2023 Lecture


April 26th & 27th: Squire Booker, Penn State University

Keep up to date on the 2023 lecture here

Past Lectures


Jeannette Brown Lecturer Professor Thomas H. Epps, III presented two lectures. In "Space Shuttles, Popcorn, and Mountains – A Road through Polymer Science," he reflected on key points of his past that have guided his path towards a career focused on polymer science. He also provided a keynote lecture, "Advancing Sustainability: Small Molecules and Polymers from Biomass and Plastics Waste."

In addition to networking with students and hosting a career panel, Merck scientists lead a DEI event, where Jesus G. Estrada, Senior Scientist, Merck small molecule process research & development (SM PR&D), gave a Ted Talk about his experiences as an undocumented immigrant pursuing a career in chemistry. Dr. Cheol K. Chung, Process Research & Development, Merck Research Laboratories, provided a keynote lecture, "Process R&D for Sustainable Pharmaceutical Manufacturing."

The two-day event concluded with a series of student flash talks, to highlight the great research being conducted in the department.  

View the full schedule.


Professor Richmond Sarpong was the invited speaker for the Department of Chemistry’s inaugural Jeannette Brown Lectureship. Sarpong presented two virtual lectures and met with students and faculty and the department’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. 

Dr. Olugbeminiyi Fadeyi, originally from Nigeria, currently works at Merck Exploratory Science Center as a Molecular Invention Scientist, where he is developing a platform that integrates chemistry and biology to study novel mechanistic basis of human diseases to develop new therapeutics.

View the full schedule