Try using one or two of these in your Google searches to find a popular article:
Sample Google searches:
african american mental health new york times magazine
transgender military newsweek
latinos diabetes time
The following books in the Reference Collection on the 1st floor of Waldo Library will list events that were happening in the U.S. and the world when your scientist lived.
American Eras series (Call number range E 162 - E 168)
Covers from 1600 to 1899.
American Decades series (Call number range E 169.12 .A419))
Covers 1900 to 2009.
Day by Day series (Call number D 848)
Covers mostly the 20th century.
Chronology of World History (Call number: D 11 .M39 1999)
Covers all of world history until the end of the 20th century.
Annual Register of World Events (Call number: D 2 .A7--GENERAL STACKS on 2nd FLOOR)
This annual British publication details events in the U.K., but also in the rest of the world, from 1901 to 2012.