The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Lloyd N. Ferguson

Share on Social Media

Information about Lloyd N. Ferguson

Profile image of Lloyd N. Ferguson

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Chemistry Professor
Chemist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
2/9/1918
Birth Location:
Oakland, California

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Chemistry Professor
Chemist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
All Seasons
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
2/9/1918
Birth Location:
Oakland
See how Lloyd N. Ferguson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Chemist and chemistry professor Lloyd Noel Ferguson was born on February 9, 1918 in Oakland, California to Noel Ferguson, a businessman, and Gwendolyn Ferguson, a house maid. Ferguson’s interest in chemistry began when he was a child. He built a shed in his backyard so that he could conduct experiments away from his house. Ferguson skipped two grades, and although an illness kept him out of school for a year, he was able to graduate from Oakland Tech High School in 1934, when he was just sixteen. After high school, Ferguson worked with the Works Progress Administration and soon thereafter, the Southern Pacific Railway Company as a porter to save money to attend college. In 1936, Ferguson became the first in his family to attend college, and he earned his B.S. degree with honors in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley in 1940. Ferguson then earned his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from University of California, Berkeley in 1943, making him the first African American to do so. While at Berkeley, Ferguson worked with Dr. Melvin Calvin on a national defense project, the purpose of which was to find a material that would release oxygen for use in a submarine if it was ever needed.

In 1945, after working at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ferguson received an offer to join the faculty of Howard University in Washington D.C. He became a full professor of chemistry at Howard University in 1955, and in 1958 Ferguson became the head of the chemistry department. During his tenure, Ferguson was instrumental in building the first doctoral program in chemistry at any historically black college or university. In 1952 he was elected to the prestigious American Chemical Society. In 1965, Ferguson joined the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles, where he chaired the department of chemistry from 1968 to 1971. Throughout his academic career, Ferguson pursued many scientific interests including: the chemistry of carbon-based molecules, the organic nature of taste sensations, and cancer-causing agents. Ferguson received the California State University CSU Outstanding Professor Award in 1974 and in 1981. In 1976 Ferguson received the Distinguished American Medallion from the American Foundation for Negro Affairs. Ferguson was the only African American to receive an ACS award in chemical education in 1978. He has published seven textbooks and has written over fifty journal articles. He has also helped to develop programs such as Support of the Educationally and Economically Disadvantaged and the Minority Biomedical Research Program that encourage young minority students wishing to pursue higher education and careers in science. In 1972, Ferguson co-founded the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. He retired from California State University in Los Angeles in 1986.

Ferguson has a scholarship named after him at the California State University, Los Angeles. He received an honorary Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Howard University. Ferguson is married to Charlotte Welch, and they have raised three adult children, Lloyd, Jr., Stephen, and Lisa.

Lloyd N. Ferguson was interviewed by the HistoryMakerson April 25, 2011.

Lloyd N. Ferguson passed away on November 30, 2011.

See how Lloyd N. Ferguson is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lloyd Ferguson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson shares his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his mother and father's family histories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his mother's side of the family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his father coming to California from Jamaica
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about how his parents met in California
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about living near his grandparents as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his interest in sports
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about selling cleaning products that he made in his backyard laboratory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his early school experience
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Lloyd Ferguson explains how the depression affected his family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his experience at Oakland Technical High School, part 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his experience at Oakland Technical High School, part 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about growing up and the influence of church
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his interest in becoming a scientist
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about having fun despite the Depression
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his job after high school at the Southern Pacific Railroad
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about going to the University of California, Berkeley for college
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about working as a red cap while attending school at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his classes and professors at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his submarine project at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about the chemistry department at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about working in the radiation laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about working with Melvin Calvin in the University of California, Berkeley radiation laboratory
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson describes his research advisor at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls meeting his wife and teaching at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls notable people at Howard University, part 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his work in the chemistry department at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls notable people at Howard University, part 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about chemistry textbooks
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about doing research in organic chemistry at Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about the textbooks that he wrote
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his research on the taste and color of organic compounds at Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls other African Americans at Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls his first textbook and his sabbatical in Copenhagen
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson describes the difference in resources between the University of California, Berkeley and Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his sabbatical in Zurich and working with Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Prelog
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about joining the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his interest in golf
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson responds to questions about his involvement with the FDA and Project SEED
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his 1971 sabbatical to Nairobi, Kenya
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson remembers talks about MBRS and NOBCChE
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls his awards and accolades
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson reflects on his life's accomplishments and shares his hopes for the black community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his wife, children, and how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lloyd Ferguson recalls working with Melvin Calvin
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about starting the graduate chemistry program at Howard University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lloyd Ferguson shares his memories of Sam Ashley, Percy Julian, and Herman Branson
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lloyd Ferguson remembers playing bridge at California State University, Los Angeles
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lloyd Ferguson responds to questions about his research
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lloyd Ferguson has trouble remembering his fellow colleagues at Howard University
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lloyd Ferguson reflects on his life's accomplishments
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his wife and his personal life
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his teaching and his textbooks
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Lloyd Ferguson talks about his early interest in science
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Lloyd Ferguson reflects on his career after leaving the University of California, Berkeley