Detroit Public Schools Nobel Prize Awardees!

December 08, 2021

Today is Nobel Prize Day and we recognize DPS’ Nobel Prize winner Melvin Calvin as well as Ralph Bunche, after whom we have a school named, who spent his young years in Detroit before moving to Los Angeles. 

Melvin Calvin was one of America’s most prolific biochemists and in 1961, he earned the Nobel Prize for Chemistry honoring his work in the field of photosynthesis. His developing the eponymous Calvin Cycle revolutionized the field of chemistry and his groundbreaking findings would not have been possible without the Detroit Public Schools District. Calvin was born to immigrant parents who raised him in Detroit. He was always interested in science and his gifts were fostered at Central High School, the oldest public high school in Detroit.  Calvin graduated in 1928 before graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree from what is now known as Michigan Technological University. Calvin’s work fundamentally changed the way we understand photosynthesis today. His career and scientific acumen began with a family that supported his dreams and Detroit’s Central High School, which nurtured his interests and developed his thirst for scientific discovery.  

Ralph Bunche, this grandson of a slave born in Detroit, and losing his parents at a very young age, became the Undersecretary-General of the United Nations and the first American Nobel Peace prize winner for his mediation and conflict resolution work in foreign countries, specifically the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Born in 1904, Bunche spent his early years on Detroit’s east side where a Michigan Historic Site plaque and the DPSCD Ralph Bunche Preparatory Academy now stand to commemorate his life. Adversity didn’t stop him from graduating as high school valedictorian and putting himself through college at UCLA working as a janitor, eventually graduating summa cum laude. Prior to his work with the United Nations, Bunche’s long educational and professional life took him across the globe where his message of race and decolonization played an instrumental role in shaping the US and foreign relations today, but we can look back and see that it all started right here in Detroit. We are grateful for the proud legacy of Ralph Bunche! 

There are thousands of bright young minds just like Calvin and Bunche in the Detroit Public Schools Community District and with your help, we can help train the next generation of Nobel Prize winners in every field! Please consider making a donation to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation today. 

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ROUSH EMPLOYEES: You can help the Central-Durfee K-12 Campus of Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) Students get a STEM/ROBOTICS LAB!

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