Matriculated the first African American scholar to publish in a major sociology journal

As a student at the University of Chicago in 1901, Monroe Nathan Work, AB 1902, AM 1903, published “The Negro and Crime in Chicago,” the first scholarly article by an African American to be published in the American Journal of Sociology. Later, as founding director of the Department of Records and Research, Work aggressively advanced empirical research on the African American experience.

Monroe Nathan Work, AB 1902, AM 1903


Colossal Statue of King Tutankhamun excavated by the Oriental Institute and on display in its Egyptian Gallery

Established first US chair in Egyptology, Oriental history

Scholarship on the ancient Near East was primarily centered in Europe until 1905, when archaeologist and historian James Henry Breasted assumed the first chair in Egyptology and Oriental history in the United States, at the University of Chicago. In 1919, he founded the Oriental Institute as a laboratory for the study of the rise and development of civilization.


Isolated beta cells, leading to the discovery of insulin

In a series of investigations beginning in 1906, Robert R. Bensley demonstrated that the islets of Langerhans were specialized elements of the pancreas. He developed staining methods that distinguished between alpha cells and the beta cells that produce insulin. Bensley's work was fundamental to the discovery of insulin. Bensley later developed techniques to disassemble cells and isolate cellular components by spinning them in a centrifuge, a technique he used in 1934 to isolate mitochondria and analyze them.


Albert A. Michelson, Professor in Physics

Measured speed of light, winning first Nobel for a US scientist

Precision optical experiments by physicist Albert A. Michelson led to measurements of the speed of light and support for Einstein’s theory of relativity. In 1907, Michelson became the first scientist from the United States to win the Nobel Prize.


Pioneered social service scholarship in the United States

From its earliest incarnation in 1908, the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration was among the first schools of social work in the United States and a pioneer in using scientific research to identify and address the root causes of social inequity. Today, SSA alumni lead public and private welfare agencies around the world, where they tackle the major social problems of our time.

Edith Abbott, PhD 1905, Inaugural Dean of the School of Social Service Administration and first female dean of any graduate school in the US