By: Patrice L. Jackson-Ayotunde and Henry North
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), a historically black university (HBCU), was founded in 1873 as the Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal (AM&N) College. UAPB is the second oldest public institution in the state. From its inception to well into the 20th century, UAPB was one of the few colleges for African Americans because the state maintained racial segregation until the mid-1960s. During the early 1940s, two exceptional chemists, Lincoln I. Diuguid and Samuel P. Massie Jr., were young professors and scientists at AM&N (UAPB), cultivating young minds while themselves trying to overcome racial setbacks.
A late January 2015 local news segment featured the passing of Lincoln Isaiah Diuguid, Ph.D., (1917–2015) of St. Louis, Mo. Dr. Diuguid (pronounced DO-good) earned a B.S., magna cum laude, from West Virginia State College in 1938, and an M.S. in organic chemistry from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in 1939. From 1939 to 1943, he was the head of the chemistry department at AM&N (UAPB) and worked at the Pine Bluff Arsenal during World War II. Dr. Diuguid went back to Cornell and completed his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in June of 1945. His dissertation was titled Benzothiazole derivatives for antimalarial studies.
After obtaining his Ph.D. in chemistry, he completed two additional years of postdoctoral studies where his research was focused on malaria. Dr. Diuguid moved to St. Louis after being denied a coveted research position due to his ethnicity. This opportunity in St. Louis allowed him to pursue his own research after buying and renovating a two-story, red-brick former veterinary hospital on 1215 South Jefferson Avenue, south of Chouteau Avenue, that he converted to a laboratory named the Du-Good Chemical Lab & Manufacturers. His research led to more than 30 scientific papers.
After his father died of cancer in 1955, Dr. Diuguid began the search for anticancer agents. Using drug discovery techniques, he synthesized and tested more than 3,000 compounds in his search for a cure for the disease. Many of them showed promising tumor-killing abilities in tests at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. Despite little success in clinical trials, Dr. Diuguid contributed greatly to education of young minds by teaching and participating in the American Chemical Society in St. Louis for many years.
Samuel P. Massie Jr., Ph.D., (1919–2005), a native of Little Rock Arkansas, was the son of two school teachers. Dr. Massie completed high school at 13 years old, and being too young for college, he worked in a grocery store for a year. He earned an associate’s degree from Dunbar Junior College in Little Rock in 1934, a B.S. degree in chemistry with the highest honors from AM&N (UAPB) in 1938, and an M.S. degree in chemistry in 1940 from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn. Dr. Massie worked at AM&N (UAPB) as an associate professor of mathematics and physics, and as acting head of the math and physics department. Dr. Massie left AM&N (UAPB) in 1941 to pursue his doctorate at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. During his time in Iowa he discovered he had not left the racial barriers behind in the South.
During World War II, Dr. Massie worked as a research associate at Iowa State on a special research team that was part of the Manhattan Project, the top-secret effort to develop an atomic bomb. Upon completion of the war, Dr. Massie returned to working on his dissertation, High-Molecular Weight Compounds of Nitrogen and Sulfur as Therapeutic Agents. He completed his Ph.D. in organic chemistry in 1946.
In 1953, Dr. Massie returned to Fisk, where he served as professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry department. While at Fisk he formed a research team to study phenothiazine, a chemical that he had begun researching as a graduate student. Soon afterward, phenothiazine became a subject of great interest, as research teams around the world discovered its uses in treating psychiatric disorders and in cancer therapy. Dr. Massie’s article The Chemistry of Phenothiazine, published in 1954, became an important resource for researchers, and is still regarded as a classic and led to the development of the antipsychotic drug Thorazine.
Drs. Diuguid and Massie were two of the most distinguished organic chemists and chemistry educators in the United States. Despite racial barriers of the time, these two men found a home at UAPB where they were able to shape the minds of undergraduates before completing their doctoral studies.