In Memoriam: Esther Arvilla Harrison Hopkins, 1926-2021

Esther A. H. Hopkins, a biophysicist, chemist, educator, and environmental attorney died on May 19 on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. She was 94 years old.

A native of Stamford, Connecticut, Hopkins’ parents were both chauffers. She entered kindergarten at age 3. After graduating from Stamford High School in 1943, she enrolled at Boston University, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry there in 1947. She applied to the medical school at Boston University but was rejected for admission. At the time the medical school had a quote of only two Black students per entering class.

Hopkins went on to earn a master’s degree in chemistry at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She then taught at what is now Virginia State University from 1949 to 1952 before taking a position as an assistant researcher of biophysics at the New England Insitute for Medical Research. She then took a job as a chemist at American Cyanamid in Stamford. While there she earned a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. in chemistry at Yale University.

Dr. Hopkins then took a job at Polaroid Corporation. While there she earned a juris doctorate at Suffolk University in Boston. After earning her law degree, Dr. Hopkins was named deputy general counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

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