California State University, Los Angeles, better known as Cal State L.A., will officially dedicate its courtyard area on Friday, Feb. 18, to a man who once served as a porter for the Southern Pacific Railway and went on to be the school’s emeritus professor of chemistry.
The ceremony for Lloyd N. Ferguson will be held at 11:30 a.m.
The courtyard quad is located in between La Kretz Hall and Wing B of the Wallis Annenberg Integrated Sciences Complex on the East Los Angeles campus.
The dedication is in recognition of Ferguson’s campus accomplishments and his national and international scientific contributions.
Ferguson, 93, who taught in the school’s chemistry and biochemistry department for 21 years, served as director of its Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) program from its inception in 1973 through 1984. MBRS provides support for research participation and career enhancement of undergraduates and graduate students, with the expectation that participants will pursue a Ph.D. after graduation.
He was recipient of the school’s 1973-74 Outstanding Professor Award and the 1980-81 California State Universities Trustees’ Outstanding Professor Award. Ferguson has served as a role model for hundreds of students who have gone on to careers in science and technology.
Like those he mentored, Ferguson also had a passion for science from a young age. While in his teens, he developed such products as a moth repellent, spot remover and silver polish. After graduating from high school, he worked as a porter for Southern Pacific to save enough money to go to college.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1940, and by 1943 had become the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. While at Berkeley, he helped develop a hemoglobin compound that could quickly and reversibly gain and lose oxygen. The Monsanto Co. continued the development and manufactured large quantities of this material for use in submarines as a source of oxygen. Before arriving at Cal State L.A., Ferguson taught at Howard University for 20 years.
The Oakland native is the author of more than 50 journal articles and seven chemistry textbooks, Ferguson was a National Science Foundation fellow at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and served as chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Education and on the National Cancer Institute’s chemotherapy advisory committee.
Established in 1995 in his honor, the school’s Lloyd N. Ferguson Distinguished Lecture Series brings leading scientists to the campus annually. Each year a scholarship bearing his name is also presented to a select freshman majoring in chemistry or biochemistry.