Dr. Jessie Isabelle Price

Dr. Jessie Isabelle Price was a pioneering veterinary microbiologist who researched parasites, infections, and microbial diseases affecting ducks and other waterfowls. She grew up poor in a predominantly white neighborhood in Montrose, PA., and deferred her enrollment at Cornell University for a year to move to Ithaca to attend an additional year of high school to prepare her for the rigors of college. This also allowed her obtain state residency that waived her tuition. She earned her BS (1953) in Microbiology, MS (1958) in Veterinary Bacteriology, Pathology, and Parasitology, and PhD (1959) in Microbiology from Cornell. Her Master’s dissertation was entitled: “Morphological and Cultural Studies of Pleuropneumonia-like Organisms and Their Variants Isolated from Chickens”. Her PhD dissertation, one year later, was entitled: “Studies on Pasteurella anatipestifer infection in white Pekin Ducklings”.  

After graduation she worked at the Cornell Duck Research Laboratory. She focused on reducing the occurrence of bacterial diseases in Pekin ducks, including doing autopsies on vaccinated and unvaccinated ducks. During her eighteen-year tenure, Dr. Price developed two vaccines that would be used commercially by duck farmers in the US and Canada. Her vaccines also proved to be effective for turkey farmers and pigeon farmers.

Her next position was at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center of the National Biological Service. Here she studied diseases in wildlife and environmental contaminants in waterfowl. She also identified why some wetlands have more choleric outbreaks than others. Other positions that she held include serving as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Long Island University, and as an Adjunct Professor at Southampton College of Long Island University.

She was an active member of several organizations and dedicated to mentoring. During her membership with the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) she was a member of the Committee on the Status of Minority Microbiologists and Committee of the Status of Women Microbiologists; and served as Chair of the Summer Research Fellowship and Travel Award Program and Predoctoral Minority Fellowship Ad Hoc Review Committee. Other memberships she held were to the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She also served as Vice-President, National President, and Board of Directors for Sigma Delta Epsilon/ Graduate Women in Science (GWIS). She passed away in 2015 from Alzheimer’s disease.


  1. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/price-jessie-isabelle-1930-2015/
  2. https://awis.org/historical-women/dr-jessie-isabelle-price/ 
  3. https://asm.org/articles/2023/march/iconic-black-women-in-the-history-of-microbiology 
  4. https://poc2.co.uk/2019/03/14/dr-jessie-isabelle-price-veterinary-microbiologist/comment-page-1/
  5. https://www.microbigals.com/post/looking-at-the-history-of-dr-jessie-isabelle-price-a-research-most-fowl