Scientist Heroes: Especially the Woman Who Discovered Coronaviruses

June Almeida with her electron microscope at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto in 1963. Image: Getty

Everything we know about COVID-19 and how the virus is mutating is due to the countless teams of scientists and researchers who study infectious diseases. These experts have also helped governments understand the ethics of managing the disease including the issuance of “immunity passports.” There’s a lot of misinformation out there and scientists are leading the way in ensuring that the public and lawmakers have access to accurate information.

One such researcher we’d like to honor is Dr. June Almeida. As the BBC wrote, while COVID-19 is a new illness it is caused by a coronavirus of the type first identified by Dr. June Almeida in 1964 at her laboratory in St Thomas’s Hospital in London. Dr. Almeida pioneered a method to better visualize viruses by using antibodies to aggregate and her work has come roaring back into focus during the present pandemic. Though she didn’t get the recognition she deserved when she was alive (she died in 2007) her work is finally being recognized for its importance. 

Why This Matters: In the United States we currently have a dangerous culture of science and scientists being questioned and smeared to fit an anti-science political agenda. What separates our current era from periods in history where humans routinely died from preventable diseases is science and the tireless researchers to expand our knowledge. Unlike politicians, scientists often work behind the scenes and often do not receive the recognition they deserve for their contributions to humanity–but we can change this. As citizens it’s our duty to vote for lawmakers who make science-based decisions and who fund science. So thank you scientists, you’re our heroes! 

Go Deeper: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson had a viral tweet recently that said “You know it’s true… Every disaster movie begins with a scientist being ignored.”

Here he explains why science is so important and matters so much in this current moment:

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