Game Changers: 10 African Americans Who Made Vital Scientific Contributions


Emmett Chappelle (born October 25, 1925)


scientist and researcher and a recipient of 14 U.S. patents. He discovered that a particular combination of chemicals caused all living organisms to emit light.

Ernest Everett Just (August 14, 1883 – October 27, 1941)


African American biologist and author known for his work on egg fertilization and the structure of the cell.

James West (born February 10, 1931)


African-American inventor who developed the microphone in the 1960s. He holds 47 U.S. and more than 200 foreign patents on microphones and techniques for making polymer foil-electrets.

Mae Jemison (born October 17, 1956)


American physician and NASA astronaut known for being the first woman to travel in space.

Marie Maynard Daly (April 16, 1921 – October 28, 2003)


The first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Norbert Rillieux (March 17, 1806 – October 8, 1894)


American inventor and engineer, best remembered for his invention of the multiple-effect evaporator.

Patricia Bath (born November 4, 1942)


American ophthalmologist and inventor known for being the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical invention.

Percy Lavon Julian (April 11, 1899 – April 19, 1975)


African American researcher known for being a pioneer in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants.

Philip Emeagwali (born August 23, 1954)


Nigerian-born scientist and inventor known for first using a Connection Machine supercomputer to help analyze petroleum fields.

Prof. Samuel Massie Jr. (July 3, 1919 – April 10, 2005)


Organic chemist who was the first African American to teach at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Source: Famous Scientists


  • Dr. Errol D. Alexander April 5, 2019 - 9:20 pm

    I was advised just recently about your website. I worked at Bendix Aersopsca System Divison on the North Campus of the University of Michigan on 3300 Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 4807. This high tech firm was the subcontractor to Martin Marietta/ NASA. It won a major contract against MIT, and TRW to develop, design, fabricate, and assembly four major experiments under the ALSEP program. Its initials stand for the (Apollo Lunar Scientific Experimental Package) which left on the moon in the July 20, 1969 launch by NASA.

    Errol D. Alexander (1941) a quality control engineer for the three years at Bendix just received this year (2018) the Ohio State Hall of Fame for being the first and only Afro- American employee ever to work for Bendix Aerospace . It had 325 of the most highly placed scientists and computer-trained employees in the USA; all which had to pass an intelligence Test or be a graduate in either engineering, computer development, science or math. Alexander became a certified quality control tech by test; later promoted to an assistant project engineer and was the only Afro-American employee, even after Bendix and NASA tried to recruit other minorities and up to 22 candidates could not pass the test

    After being honored as member of the ALSEP program and on the developing team of the Thermal mapper, he later went to work for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft in East Hartford Conn. This was the jet engine manufacturer on the Boeing airbus. After awhile he left the aerospace industry and became an investment banker for Hartford National Bank(a billion dollars bank). He later became President of his owned company, Profiles Consulting Group; earned a PhD (1990) from the University of Glasgow before coming Dean of the University of Stirling ‘s Management and Business school in Scotland. Currently, and now is a semi- retired Director of Arrowhead Institute.

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