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Discover the Genius: Top 13 Fun Facts About Ernest Everett Just You Never Knew!

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Dive into the fascinating world of Ernest Everett Just, where biology, tenacity, and lesser-known tidbits collide to paint a captivating portrait of this scientific trailblazer.

1. Cellular Sensation

Hold onto your nuclei, folks, because our next party guest is quite the cellular sensation: Ernest Everett Just was a tireless scribe in the scientific world, churning out around seventy masterful papers in cytology, fertilization, and early embryo development, even co-authoring the textbook General Cytology alongside other cell celebs, like Clarence Erwin McClung, Margaret Reed Lewis, Thomas Hunt Morgan, and Edmund Beecher Wilson. If things weren't lively enough, Just's work on experimental parthenogenesis has played pivotal roles in shaping concepts in modern evolutionary and developmental biology.
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2. Egg-citing Discoveries

They say you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, but Ernest Everett Just preferred to study sea urchin eggs to uncover life's mysteries: A trailblazer in developmental biology, he discovered the "wave of negativity" during fertilization in sea urchin eggs, made significant contributions to the understanding of embryo morphogenesis and tissue affinity in amphibians, all while defying stereotypes, overcoming racism, and promoting organicism in his field.
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3. Greek Life Groundbreaker

You may have heard of Greek life at college, but have you heard of the Greeks making history at the same time? Rollicking toga parties meet groundbreaking accomplishments: Ernest Everett Just founded the first Greek fraternal organization at a Black university, Omega Psi Phi, while also being a distinguished professor of biology at Howard University.
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4. Ultimate Bromance

When a group of trailblazing young men decided to "fraternize" against the odds and give birth to the ultimate bromance at Howard University: Ernest Everett Just co-founded the first black fraternity on campus, Omega Psi Phi, in 1911. Rising above faculty and administration resistance, the brotherhood thrived and continues to uphold its legacy by fostering community service and leadership development for black men.
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Just Keep Swimming

5. Just Keep Swimming

If Ernest E. Just had a motto, it would be "Just keep swimming": This pioneering American biologist, famous for his meticulous experimental designs in embryology, not only broke barriers in the field of science, but also founded the first Greek-lettered fraternity at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), Omega Psi Phi, during his time at Howard University, inspiring generations to come through the Ernest E. Just Biomedical Society at the University of Pennsylvania.
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6. Spingarn Medal at Sea

Ever thrown a Spingarn Medal at Sea? Well, Ernest Just took it one step further: He became the first African American to receive the prestigious Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1915 for his magnificent marine biology and cell behavior research.
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7. Cracking Embryology's Toughest Cases

When Ernest Everett Just wasn't busy being the egg-spert of his time or making waves in the sea of biology, he was cracking embryology's toughest cases: Just was a groundbreaking African-American embryologist who not only discovered the fast and slow blocks to polyspermy but also characterized the "wave of negativity" during fertilization in sea urchin eggs. His work led to major breakthroughs in developmental biology and laid the foundation for our understanding of embryo morphogenesis and auto-induction.
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8. Double Fraternity Fun

Who needs just one fraternity when you can have two, am I right? Omega Psi Phi for weekdays and Sigma Pi Phi for weekends: Ernest Everett Just, a steadfast professor at Howard University, co-founded Omega Psi Phi in 1911, making him a member of both prestigious fraternities aimed at supporting and uplifting black professionals. The man definitely knew a thing or two about strong educational and communal networks!
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9. Science Olympics Hero

Who needs a Marvel superhero when you've got a real-life "Just" hero winning medals in the science Olympics: Ernest Everett Just became a household name after bagging the first Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1915 for his groundbreaking scientific research.
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Dr. Phil(osopher) of Cells

10. Dr. Phil(osopher) of Cells

Ernest Everett Just was the original "Dr. Phil(osopher)" of cellular complexity, redefining the very DNA of scientific theories with a holistic twist on the dance floor of life: This writer and philosopher embraced organicism and challenged established genetic theories, advocating instead that living organisms should be viewed as complex wholes that couldn't be fully explained by merely adding up their cellular parts.
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11. Cellular Whisperer

Scientists have long pondered the closest thing to a real-life Doctor Dolittle, and legend has it that Ernest Everett Just might be that cellular whisperer: As the founding father of Howard University's Department of Zoology, his 30-year reign produced hundreds of Master's graduates and 125 PhDs, who collectively represent a whopping 12% of all living African-American biology PhD holders in the USA.
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12. Lemon-to-Research Alchemy

When life gave him lemons, Ernest Everett Just turned them into groundbreaking scientific research: In 1909, Just became the first African-American invited as a summer research assistant at The University of Chicago's Marine Biological Laboratory under MBL Director Frank R. Lillie, which later led to his professorship in 1912 and a legacy of game-changing discoveries in embryology, fertilization, and over 70 published scientific articles and two books.
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13. Greek Geek God

Who needs a toga party when you can be a Greek geek god at Dartmouth College and own the awards stage like Beyoncé at the Grammys? Ernest Everett Just was the real deal: A top-notch student who aced Greek language courses and won an impressive lineup of awards in botany, sociology, and history, he was also the only African American in his graduating class – nabbing nearly every award in the process and blazing a trail for other black students studying at predominantly white institutions.
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