June Almeida, Virus Detective! The Woman Who Discovered the First Human Coronavirus

Sleeping Bear. Mar. 2021. 40p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534111325.
Gr 1-4–This narrative biography examines the life of June Almeida (1930–2007), the Scottish virologist who discovered the first human coronavirus. When she was 10, her younger brother Harry became ill and died. As she grew older, Almeida kept memories of Harry close to her heart and dreamed of studying science at a university. However, her family’s financial situation required her to leave school at 16 and find a job. She found employment at a nearby hospital, where she worked in the lab and learned how to use a microscope to study cells from sick people. A lifelong photographer, Almeida was able to utilize her technical skills with the powerful electron microscope, which captured the first images of a new virus. Almeida and doctors described the virus as resembling a crown; they named it coronavirus, after the Latin word corona. Slade adeptly documents the personal and professional journey of this lesser-known scientist. Almeida is depicted as focused, driven, and passionate. A bibliography, time line, photographs of Almeida, and additional information are included in the back matter. An author’s acknowledgment precedes the main text, which details Slade’s correspondence with Almeida’s daughter to ensure the accuracy of the work.
VERDICT A relevant and timely addition to most biography collections.

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