BHM 2017: Week Three - Jamaican Scientists and Engineers


“When you do the common things in life in an uncommonly way, you will command the attention of the world.”        – George Washington Carver


We celebrate the contributions of Jamaican scientists and engineers, from “Celebrating Jamaican Inventors and Innovators”.

Dr. the Hon. Thomas Philip Lecky, OM, OBE, DSC, PhD

Dr. Lecky became celebrated for creating new cattle breeds that are more suitable to the Jamaican climate and terrain. In the 1950s, Dr. Lecky successfully developed a new breed of dairy cattle ‘Jamaica Hope’, which was a combination of the British Jersey (a small, light-feeding cow), the Holstein (a heavy milk producer cow) and the Indian Sahiwal that was disease-resistant and suited to the warm climate.

Austin James Thomas

Austin James (AJ) Thomas was a self-taught marine scientist who led the development of land-based fishing in Jamaica. Born in Westmoreland in 1909, AJ Thomas was instrumental in the creation of the mono-sex cultivation of the African or Nile perch, commonly known as tilapia.

Dr. the Hon. Manley Elisha West, OM, PhD

Dr. Manley West, a pharmacologist, was renowned for his pioneering work in the development of medicine from the marijuana plant. In 1985, Dr. West, along with Dr. Albert Lockhart, an ophthalmologist, developed the drug Canasol from cannabis for the treatment of glaucoma. Canasol eye drops reduce the fluid pressure within the eye that is present in late-stage glaucoma.

Robert Rashford

Robert Rashford is an aerospace engineer and a leader in inventing tools for outer space exploration missions. In 2000, Rashford along with Puerto Rican scientist, Charles Rivera, invented the world’s first portable 3D non-destructive evaluation (NDE) system. The NDE system detects flaws in materials used to construct aircraft, spacecraft and industrial pipelines without having to take these materials apart. The system was used in the maintenance of the United States Government’s Hubble Space Telescope.

Dr. Lawrence Williams

Dr. Lawrence Williams, a consultant at the Scientific Research Council (SRC), isolated and characterized compounds with pharmaceutical potential from tropical plants, such as the guinea hen weed, which have the potential to fight cancers. In 2010, Dr. Williams and colleague, Dr. H.G. Levy, a Jamaican-born medical doctor based in the USA, were awarded an international patent on a protein complex of dibenzyl trisulphide, isolated from the guinea hen weed. In 2011, for his contribution to science, Dr. Williams was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica.

Professor Paula Tennant

Dr. Paula Tennant is the first person from the Caribbean to develop a bioengineered plant product and the first to create a papaya that is resistant to the Papaya Ringspot Virus (PRSV). Dr. Tennant produced a new bioengineered papaya variety that was resistant to PRSV. This variant was named “Jamaica Solo” Sunrise. For her work, she received a PhD from Cornell University. In the same year, she joined the Department of Life Sciences at UWI, Mona, where she has continued to research viruses affecting papaya, citrus and root crops. In 2012, she was promoted to Professor of Molecular Plant Pathology.

This is just a sample of the incredible contributions Jamaicans have made in the field of science and engineering by doing "common things in life in a uncommonly way."