Marie Maynard Daly (1921 – 2003) was born in the Corona neighborhood of Queens, New Your,. Daly was an avid reader and was fascinated by Paul De Kruif’s popular book The Microbe Hunters. She was further inspired by her father’s love of science. Daly was educated at Hunter College High School, an all female institution, where her ambition to become a chemist was supported and encouraged.
She enrolled in Queens College in Flushing, New York, as a commuting student, and graduated magna cum laude in 1942 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Daly enrolled in the doctoral program at Columbia University, after tutoring chemistry students at Queens College for a year. Daly researched how compounds produced in the body affect and participate in digestion. The title of her dissertation was “A Study of the Products Formed by the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch.” She was awarded her doctoral degree in 1947, only three years after enrolling in the program, and was the first African American woman to obtain a PhD in chemistry in the United States