Juanita P. Cooke

Honorary Degrees

California State University San Marcos

Mrs. Juanita Page Cooke,  born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia, would lead a remarkable career in science.  She attended Bennett College where she   developed lifelong friendships and was actively involved in spearheading projects and participating in numerous student organizations. She would earn  a degree in Biochemistry in 1952.

. After graduation, Mrs. Cooke moved north to Washington DC to pursue her dreams of a career in science. She was hired by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and eventually became part of a team of researchers led by biochemist Christian B. Anfinsen. In this role, Mrs. Cooke assisted with conducting groundbreaking and seminal research on protein folding. Dr. Anfinsen would win the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for ribonuclease. Mrs. Cooke contributed significantly to this work, and was a co-author on two of the publications cited in Dr. Anfinsen’s Nobel Prize acceptance lecture. Mrs. Cooke transitioned from the lab to become the head the Office of Special Concerns at NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

While working at the NIH, she would meet and then marry her husband of almost 65 years, Henry J. Cooke, Sr. Soon, they had a devoted son, Henry J. Cooke, Jr. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Cooke masterfully balanced work, family, friends and having a good time. Upon retiring in1988, they would travel the world, cameras in hand, alongside dear friends and family. Mrs. Cooke passed away on February 16, 2021.   

In recognition of her groundbreaking scientific research and her affinity for campus student life, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and the California State University San Marcos are proud to confer posthumously upon Juanita P. Cooke the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.