Charles Henry Turner was a prominent research biologist, educator, zoologist, and comparative psychologist born in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1892, Turner became the 1st African American to receive a graduate degree at the University of Cincinnati. In 1907, he became the 1st African American to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Despite his doctorate, Turner chose to teach at high schools. Most sources attribute this career move to a desire to devote more time to the observation of insects.
Turner published 49 papers on invertebrates, including Habits of Mound-Building Ants, Experiments on the Color Vision of the Honeybee, Hunting Habits of an American Sand Wasp, and Psychological Notes on the Gallery Spider. In his research, Turner became the 1st person to prove that insects can hear and can distinguish pitch. In addition, he first discovered that cockroaches can learn by trial and error and that honeybees can see color.
Besides his scientific work, Turner was active in the struggle to obtain social and educational services for African Americans in St. Louis, Missouri. After his death, a school for disabled African American children was named in his honor.
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