On the east side of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s campus, a 25-foot tree with long, narrow leaves and velvety brown fruit pays tribute to Alice Augusta Ball, the first woman and first African American student to receive a master’s degree from the school.
Known as a chaulmoogra, the tree was planted in 1935 in honor of Ball’s groundbreaking research on Hansen’s disease, or leprosy. As a chemist at the university—then known as the College of Hawaiʻi—in the mid-1910s, she developed one of the first effective treatments for the chronic infection, extracting oil from the chaulmoogra fruit’s seeds for injection into the bloodstream.
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