The grandson of Alabama slaves, Julian won worldwide acclaim for his work in organic chemistry - and broke the color barrier in American science more than a decade before Jackie Robinson did so in baseball. A brilliant chemist, Julian discovered a way to turn soybeans into synthetic steroids on an industrial scale. His innovative approach to chemistry helped to make drugs like cortisone widely available to millions.
Dr. Percy Julian, of the research department at the Glidden Paint and Varnish Company, is shown in his office in Chicago, Illinois, July 25, 1947.
Percy Julian overcame countless obstacles to become a world-class scientist, a self-made millionaire and a civil rights pioneer. Yet, despite his many achievements, his story is largely unknown. NOVA brings to life Julian's scientific breakthroughs and gripping biography, with vivid period re-enactments based on newly accessible family archives and interviews with dozens of colleagues and relatives.