Turner, Charles Henry (Zoologist)

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Charles Henry Turner (February 3, 1867 – February 15, 1923) was a prominent research biologist, educator, zoologist, and comparative psychologist born in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In 1892, Turner became the first African American to receive a graduate degree at the University of Cincinnati.
In 1907, he became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Despite his doctorate, Turner chose to teach at high schools. Most sources attribute this career move to a desire to devote more time to the observation of insects, but Charles I. Abramson, in his 2003 article on Turner for American Bee Journal, claims that Turner was unable, rather than unwilling, to get an appointment at the University of Chicago, and that the Tuskegee Institute could not afford his salary.

Turner published 49 papers on invertebrates, including Habits of Mound-Building Ants, Experiments on the Color Vision of the Honeybee, Hunting Habits of an American Sand Wasp, and Psychological Notes on the Gallery Spider. In his research, Turner became the first person to prove that insects can hear and can distinguish pitch. In addition, he first discovered that cockroaches can learn by trial and error and that honeybees can see color.

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