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Black History Month in the Health Science Libraries : People

This guide will highlight information and information resources related to the celebration of Black History Month.


This page profiles and brief biographies of UF Health Science Center staff and faculty from our BIPOC in Health Science promotional series as well as a selected few historical national leaders.

Dr. Abimbola (Abi) O. Adewumi

Dr. Abimbola (Abi) O. Adewumi, BDS, FDSRCS is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the UF College of Dentistry. She was born in London, England, and received her BDS from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria in 1991.  She also completed a year-long internship in General Dentistry at Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. She moved back to the United Kingdom where she received postgraduate training in Oral Surgery and was awarded a Fellow in Dental Surgery (FDS) by the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1996. In 1999, Dr. Adewumi completed a Masters’ degree in Pediatric Dentistry at the University of London followed by specialist training in Pediatric Dentistry at King’s College Dental Institute and St. George’s Hospital in London. She was awarded a Diploma of Member in Pediatric Dentistry from the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 2003. 

Dr. Adewumi came to the University of Florida in 2004 as a Fellow in Pediatric Dentistry at the UF College of Dentistry (UFCD). In 2005 she joined the UFCD faculty as an Assistant Professor and in 2008, she became a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry (ABPD). Dr. Adewumi is a Board-certified Pediatric Dentist in both the UK and US. She was promoted to Associate Professor in Pediatric Dentistry in 2012. In 2014, she was appointed the Residency Program Director in Pediatric Dentistry at the UF College of Dentistry for both the Gainesville and Naples Residency Programs.  Her work focuses in several areas. She is the Director of Hospital Dentistry and her department’s liaison for UF Health Shands Hospital in the management of medically complex patients and those with special healthcare needs. She is also part of the UF Interdisciplinary Craniofacial team as the Pediatric Dentist and is involved in presurgical nasoalveolar molding (PNAM) in infants born with Cleft and palate. She has authored many peer-reviewed articles and been a chapter contributor to textbooks of Pediatric Dentistry and Emergency Medicine. She is also a past dental counselor and treasurer for the Florida Cleft Palate- Craniofacial Association. She is a past chair and current counselor of the Pediatric Dentistry Section of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). 

 She is the Faculty Advisor for the UF chapter of Students National Dental Association (SNDA) and has been both mentor and advisor to many dental students and residents over the years. She has led many UFCD humanitarian dental mission trips to Jamaica and the Bahamas. 

Dr. Llorens

Dr. Llorens came to the University of Florida in 1971 as Occupational Therapy faculty in the College of Public Health and Health Professions. She was appointed chair of the Occupational Therapy department in 1976, becoming one of the first African American chairs of Occupational Therapy in the United States.

Dr. Llorens earned her bachelor's in occupational therapy from Western Michigan University, and her master's in vocational rehabilitation from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.  She received her Ph.D. from Walden University; and a Certificate in Gerontology from San Jose State University, where she became faculty after leaving UF.  She retired from SJSU in 1996.  The author of several books, she is known for championing occupational therapy research and served on the American Occupational Therapy Association research advisory committee. She is recognized by AOTA as one of the 100 Influential people in the field.

Dr. Versie Johnson-Mallard

"Versie Johnson-Mallard, PhD, WHNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN

Associate Dean, Student Affairs

Director, Student Success

Dr. Johnson-Mallard currently serves as the College of Nurse’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs, a position she has held since 2018. She started her work at the University of Florida in 2015 when she came as Chair of the Department of Family, Community, and Health System Science. Prior to coming to UF, she was an Associate Professor at the University of South Florida College of Nursing.   She received her B.S.N. from Florida A & M University, her M.S.N. from the University of Florida and her doctorate from the University of South Florida.  She is a board-certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. 

 Her work and extensive research focus on women’s health, reproductive health, sexually transmitted infection prevention, HPV screening and prevention and behavior change.  Her work was supported by a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship with the National Institute of Nursing Research in the National Institutes of Health and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of South Florida. In 2009 she received a $350,000 Nurse Faculty Scholar award to study the prevention of sexually transmitted infections among college students and young adults.

 She is a board-certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, and serves as co-chair of the American Academy of Nursing’s Women’s Health Expert Panel, is an alum of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar, and is an active board member of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.

Dr. Donna Parker

Dr. Donna Parker is a faculty member in the University of Florida College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, and also Associate Dean, Office of Diversity and Health Equity.  She was born and went through high school in Jamaica, and then came to the United States to attend college at Florida International University.  From there she moved to Gainesville to attend medical school at the University of Florida, graduating in 1990 and completing her pediatrics residency at the University of Florida.  After working for 5 years as a Pediatrician at the Alachua County Health Department, she joined the College of Medicine faculty.   She is recognized as a compassionate physician who focuses on humanistic and healing relationships with her patients and their families and was recognized by induction into the UF Chapman Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. In addition, she has served as an advisor for the UF GHHS chapter.    Her extensive and pioneering work promoting diversity and health equity focuses both on creating a healthcare system that is diverse and just, and providing equitable access to health care for patients.

Dr. Will Sanders

Will Sanders served as the first African American faculty member in the College of Medicine.  He was born in South Carolina in 1929. The youngest of 11 children, he served in World War II and the Korean War, and then attended Hampton Institute in Virginia and attended mortuary school in Chicago.

He started work in the College of Medicine in 1957, shortly after it opened, as an anatomy laboratory technician. His job, preparing cadavers for dissection, brought him into contact with medical students and gave him the opportunity to teach and inspire them. He enrolled as an undergraduate at UF in 1962, after having his application denied 3 years earlier, as one of the first seven black students at the University.  He continued to work in the Department of Anatomy and became a faculty member in 1968. 

His advocacy for medical students and support for students of color led to him becoming the director of the Office of Minority Relations, recruiting and supporting minority students. His support and encouragement enabled black students to find a supportive mentor in medical school.   Professor Sanders retired in 1989 as a tenured associate professor.

Dr. Fern J. Webb

Fern J. Webb, Ph.D.

Fern J. Webb, Ph.D., is an associate professor and research director in the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville’s department of community health and family medicine. Dr. Webb is also an active research member at the UF Center for Health Equity and Quality Research. Her research includes implementing holistic strategies to improve overall health and quality of life for African-Americans.

To learn more about Dr. Webb, please visit her profile page here:

Dr. Levi Watkins (1944-2015)






Dr. Levi Watkins was a civil rights activist and surgeon who performed the first implementation of an automatic defibrillator in 1980. He was an academic cardiac surgeon at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and while there he was instrumental in recruiting black students to the School of Medicine. His recruitment campaign was so successful that other medical schools seeking to attract black students emulated his approach. Dr. Watkins was also the first black Chief Resident of Cardiac Surgery at Hopkins and prior to that received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Tennessee State University and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Vanderbilt University. 

Dr. Percy Julian





Dr. Percy Julian, the grandson of enslaved people, was a pharmaceutical chemist who pioneered the synthesis of medicinal steroids from plant compounds. He graduated as valedictorian of his 1920 class from DePauw University where he received a degree in chemistry. Dr. Julian went on to teach chemistry at Fisk University before completing a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Harvard University. He was prevented from pursuing doctoral studies in chemistry in the United States so he traveled to the University of Vienna to study the chemistry of medicinal plants. After completing his Ph.D., he taught at both Howard and Depauw universities before leaving academics behind for research positions in the industry. In 1949 Dr. Julian developed a new process to synthesize “Substance S”, from which he synthesized both cortisone and Hydrocortisone, two widely used and produced substances. Significantly, Hydrocortisone and its derivatives are still being produced using the same methods Dr. Julian developed.

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