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This profile was last updated on 8/27/15  and contains information from public web pages.

Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb

Wrong Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb?

Biologist, Physiologist

Fact Monster
501 Boylston St Suite 900
Boston , Massachusetts 02116
United States


Employment History

Board Memberships and Affiliations


  • University of Michigan
  • B.A. , Biology
  • Ph.D.
  • M.S. , cell physiology
  • M.S. Degree , cell physiology
    New York University
  • honorary degrees
    Douglass College
75 Total References
Web References
Selected Biographies: C, 27 Aug 2015 [cached]
Jewel Plummer Cobb, biologist, physiologist
g l o b a l a l l i a n c e, 7 June 2008 [cached]
Jewel Plummer Cobb, Ph.D.
President Emerita, California State University, Fullerton Executive Director, ACCESS Center Trustee Professor, California State University, Los Angeles
Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb became the third President of California State University, Fullerton on October 1, 1981. As President and Professor of biology, she was the Chief Executive Officer of the sixth largest campus in the California State University system. Dr. Cobb is currently serving as President Emerita, California State University Fullerton and Trustee Professor, California State University, Los Angeles, where her office is now located. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the ACCESS Center; a program designed to encourage economically disadvantage middle and high school students to pursue careers in mathematics, the sciences and engineering.
Dr. Cobb is known for her work in cell physiology, her promotion of the advancement of women in scientific fields, and her activities on behalf of minorities. She has published 36 articles in the area of factors, which influence growth, morphology and genetic expression of normal cancer pigment cells. In addition, nine articles have been published dealing with the advancement of women in scientific fields as well as the advancement of minorities. She has received 22 honorary doctorates and was the recipient of many awards including the 1999 Achievement in Excellence Award from the Center for Excellence for her contributions to science and education.
Dr. Cobb earned her bachelor's degree from Talladega College, and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, both in cell physiology, from New York University. In October 1989, Douglass College at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey dedicated the Bunting-Cobb Math and Science Hall at Douglass College of Rutgers University in honor of Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb and Dr. Mary Ingraham Bunting, former Deans of Douglass.
Dr. Cobb is currently a board member of California Science Center; COMAP, Inc.; Quality Education for Minorities Network; 21st Century Foundation; Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology, Talladega College and Board of Fellows, Claremont Graduate University. She also served six years as a member of the National Science Board. She is a retired Board of Directors of First Interstate Bancorp; Georgia Pacific Corporation; Drew University College of Medicine & Science, CPC International, Inc. and former chair of the National Committee on Women in Science & Engineering (CWISE) of the National Academy of Sciences.
Prior to her appointment as President of California State University, Fullerton, Dr. Cobb served as Dean of Douglass College at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Before her Douglass appointment she was Dean of Connecticut College and Professor of Biology at Sarah Lawrence College.
The Scientist - June 27, 1994, 7 July 2002 [cached]
Jewel Plummer Cobb, principal investigator, ACCESS Center and Network for Minorities in Science and Engineering, California State University, Los Angeles; president, emerita, California State University, Fullerton; for work in cell physiology and advocacy for women in science.
Tag: Jewel Plummer Cobb, womens ... [cached]
Tag: Jewel Plummer Cobb, womens history month
The study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] are of great importance because they are deeply intertwined into our daily lives. You can imagine how differently our lives would be without the education, research and implementation of these fields of study. In honor of Women's History Month, let's take the time to highlight the career of one of our great educators in STEM, Jewel Plummer Cobb.
Born in Chicago in 1924, she is the great granddaughter of a freed slave who went on to become a pharmacist; her father, a physician. Growing up in a family with such a background, it seemed almost inevitable for her to venture into those fields as well. It is said that she supplemented her education by reading her father's collection of books and medical and science publications. Cobb was raised in an environment where she had plenty of interaction with great African American role models in professional industries, so she herself was destined for greatness; and greatness is what she achieved.
cobb_jewel_p (1)
Cobb earned her B.A. in biology from Talladega College and completed her PhD in cell physiology by the age of 26. She placed emphasis of her research work on melanin and skin damage. She discovered the use of methotrexate to treat several kinds of cancers, including childhood leukemia. Some of her methods of methotrexate treatments are still used today through chemotherapy and some autoimmune diseases.
Aside from her work in the medical field, Cobb also spent a great deal of her life working as an educator at universities and colleges across the country. At California State University-Fullerton, she noticed the disparities between the number of African American students who pursued sports versus education, and implemented a plan to try and redirect their focus. She created a program in which faculty members would partner with students and tutor them in math, which she believed was the foundation of a career in the sciences. She worked diligently to encourage minorities and women alike to pursue an education with emphasis on science. Cobb also worked to gain funding for grants and fellowships for minority students so they could further their education. In addition, she privately funded a program for minorities in premedical and predental fields at Connecticut College, where she served as dean and zoology instructor for seven years.
In 1991, Cobb was the principal investigator at Southern California Science & Engineering ACCESS Center and Network. This program focused on providing the tools to get into engineering, mathematics and science for middle school students who were considered to be at an economic disadvantage. Ten years later, she ran a similar program for youth at CSU­-Los Angeles.
Her vast career in STEM and education has earned Cobb numerous accolades. She is a trustee at many institutions of higher education and holds 21 honorary degrees. Dr. Cobb is a Fellow at the National Cancer Institute and has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Science. She is also the recipient of the Achievement of Excellence Award from the Center for Excellence in Education.
Cobb has blazed the trails and succeeded beyond measure in a European American, male dominated industry. As an African American growing up at a time of extreme racial divide, she did not allow the views of the dominant society decide what was best for her life. She took charge of her education and created her own path and subsequently, a path for many others. For that, we salute Dr. Cobb, a priceless Jewel in the STEM field.
Jewel Plummer Cobb | Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame, 15 Sept 2011 [cached]
Jewel Plummer Cobb
Jewel Plummer Cobb "There's been a deprivation of certain educational experiences that would give young people a proper boost and encouragement to study science…It is a matter of being stimulated, having a curiosity about science early on, and developing the commitment and discipline to study." - Jewel Plummer Cobb
As a ground-breaking researcher, distinguished professor, and top university administrator, Jewel Plummer Cobb has forever changed the face of the scientific community. Not only has her research advanced our understanding of the skin cells that produce melanin and how those cells become cancerous, but she has also led the way for equal access to education and professional opportunities for women and minorities. Despite personal challenges stemming from racism and sexism, she was committed to using her success to encourage women and minorities to enter the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering.
Cobb's family was steeped in the medical profession. Her grandfather, a freed slave, had graduated from Howard College in 1898 with a degree in pharmacy and her father was a physician. The third generation of medical professionals, Cobb was born in Chicago, the daughter of Frank Plummer and Carriebel Cole Plummer, a schoolteacher. Though forced by segregation to attend less academically rigorous public schools, Cobb determined early on that she would not be deterred. She became interested in biology when she first examined cells through a microscope in high school.
Cobb first attended the University of Michigan, but left the school because of its lingering culture of discrimination, ultimately earning her B.A. in Biology from traditionally black Talladega College in Alabama. She then applied for a teaching fellowship at New York University but was rejected because of her race. She personally visited the school to present her credentials and was ultimately accepted to the position. She began teaching at NYU in 1945 and received her M.S. in cell physiology in 1947 and Ph.D. in 1950.
Upon her graduation, Cobb began working in the field of cancer research, becoming a fellow at the National Cancer Institute. From 1952 to 1954, she directed the Tissue Culture Laboratory at the University of Illinois, then went on to teach and conduct research at New York University, Hunter College, and Sarah Lawrence College. Cobb began researching the effects of chemotherapy drugs on human cells infected with cancer. Primarily concerned with melanoma, a type of skin cancer, her research included skin pigment cells and focused specifically on melanin, which gives skin its pigmentation. Her findings continue to be useful to scientists as they work to create new and more effective cancer fighting tools.
In 1967, she came to Connecticut where she was appointed Dean and Professor of Zoology at Connecticut College in New London. Along with her continued research, she also began to institute and fund model programs to encourage and retain women and under-represented minorities who sought to enter traditionally white male-dominated fields. When she left Connecticut College in 1975 to become Dean at Douglass College, the women's division within Rutgers University, she continued her work to improve the access of women and minorities to science and mathematics fields. Though the college already had a strong presence of women mathematicians and chemistry professors, Cobb worked to attract more women to the sciences with new programs. In 1979, she published "Filters for Women in Science," an article in which she exposed how educational systems and other "filters" discouraged women from careers in science and math, which ultimately affected their university tenure and equal pay.
Cobb was appointed President of California State University at Fullerton in 1981. During her tenure at CSUF she obtained state funds to construct new science and engineering buildings and found funding to build the university's first apartment complex, thus ending Fullerton's status as a commuter college. Perhaps even more importantly, Cobb developed a president's opportunity program for minority students and set up faculty teams to tutor students in mathematics in an attempt to boost their achievement in college courses.
Cobb retired from Fullerton in 1991. In addition to serving on many boards of trustees, she is the recipient of more than twenty honorary degrees. In 1993 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Science. The Center for Excellence selected her to receive the Achievement in Excellence Award in 1999 and, in 2001, she was the first recipient of the Reginald Wilson Award for significant and noteworthy accomplishments in the area of diversity in higher education.
Throughout her career, Jewel Plummer Cobb worked tirelessly to promote opportunities for young women and minorities to enter the sciences and other traditionally white male-dominated fields. When public funds ran dry, she turned to private sources and never veered from her belief that education was the key to a life of success and independence.
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