Herman Branson (1914-1995)

## The Legacy of Dr. Herman Branson

Dr. Herman Branson was a groundbreaking figure in the field of biophysics, most notably credited with the discovery of the Alpha Helix, a fundamental protein structure. His journey began in Pocahontas, Virginia on August 14, 1914, and eventually led him to pursue higher education at Virginia College, now known as Virginia State University. Following his undergraduate studies, Branson delved into the realm of physics at the University of Cincinnati, earning a doctorate in 1939 and initiating a distinguished career in academia.

During his time in academia, Herman Branson assumed significant leadership roles, a testament to his unwavering commitment to advancing the field of physics. His tenure at Howard University saw him holding various key positions, including that of Chairman of the Physics Department. Notably, Branson’s work took him to the California Institute of Technology, where he collaborated with the renowned Linus Pauling on unraveling the mysteries of protein structure. Despite encountering setbacks in receiving due credit, Branson’s contributions to the discovery of the Alpha Helix were invaluable.

Branson’s devotion to education and equity was evident throughout his life, as showcased by his pivotal role in founding the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. This commitment also led him to advocate for increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, culminating in a significant financial commitment from the Nixon Administration.

Beyond his scientific and educational pursuits, Herman Branson’s personal life was rich and fulfilling. He continued to push boundaries, both in the realms of academia and activism. His legacy, which extends into countless scientific publications, serves as a testament to his enduring impact on the scientific community.

Dr. Herman Branson’s remarkable journey came to rest in Silver Spring, Maryland, where he spent his final days surrounded by loved ones. His indelible contributions to science, advocacy, and the pursuit of knowledge continue to resonate, leaving an enduring legacy that transcends the boundaries of time.

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