Meet 32 Most Famous Black Scientists in the World

Most Famous Black Scientists

Black scientists have been performing groundbreaking research that has altered the way we currently live and work today since before the Civil War.

These most famous black scientists never wavered in pursuing the goal, even in the face of early racial prejudice.

They persisted in the face of discriminatory school closures and discovered means to conduct research in the face of job rejections based only on the color of their skin.

Our list will make you wonder what else might be omitted from your history textbook, including well-known Black scientists like George Washington Carver and James West, who created the microphone.

Some of the most famous black scientists on our list have even managed to remain relatively unknown despite their remarkable scientific contributions.

1. Patricia Bath

Patricia Bath

Patricia Bath is starting our list of the most famous black scientists. You may not be aware of one of 34 highly significant African-American scientists.

Bath’s working-class parents pushed her to follow her interests in science when she was born in 1942 in Harlem.

She became the first African American to do so when she finished her ophthalmology residency at New York University in 1973. 

Following graduation, she would have a successful career in ophthalmology.

The ‘cherry on top’ of her career came in 1986 when she invented the Laserphaco Probe, which made her the first African-American woman in medicine to receive a patent for a medical device.

Bath also became the first female faculty member at UCLA’s Jules Stein Eye Institute’s Department of Ophthalmology.

The American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness was founded by her in 1976. 

She produced research during her fellowship in ophthalmology at Columbia University showing African Americans have a higher risk of blindness and glaucoma development than other patients. 

2. Harold Amos

Harold Amos is also one of the most famous black scientists. 1918 saw the birth of Amos in Pennsauken, New Jersey.

His parents were good friends with the Quakers, who frequently gave the Amos family books, including a biography of Louis Pasteur.

This would ignite a curiosity, eventually leading to a lifelong obsession with the microscopic world. 

Amos majored in biology and minored in chemistry during his undergraduate studies at Springfield College in Massachusetts, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1941.

The following year, Amos was drafted, and in 1946, he returned from WWII and enrolled at Harvard University to pursue doctoral studies.

Amos was the first African American to graduate with a doctorate from Harvard Medical School’s Division of Medical Sciences in 1952.

The most famous black scientists then used a Fulbright fellowship to work at the Pasteur Institute in France. 

He subsequently returned to the United States to start a lifetime career as a professor and student at Harvard University, where he would remain for the next fifty years.

In 1969, Amos was promoted to full professor and later became the first African American to chair a department at Harvard Medical School. 

Amos was a highly regarded teacher who frequently mentioned his love of teaching as one of his many loves.

Throughout his career, he would win numerous honors, such as the first Charles Drew World Medical Prize from Harvard University in 1989, an Honoris Causa doctorate from the same institution in 1996, the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal in 2000, and the Public Welfare Medal, the highest award given by the National Academy of Science, in 1995.

Throughout his life, Amos gained recognition for his studies in animal and bacterial virology, bacterial metabolism, and the use of bacterial RNA to control the production of insulin and other higher-cell proteins. 

3. Valerie Thomas

Thomas is an exceptionally gifted and successful, most famous black scientist and inventor.

She was born in 1943, one of just two women in her class to major in physics when she graduated from Morgan State University, and she started a long career with NASA.

Thomas worked with NASA to create the image-processing technologies for LANDSAT, the first spacecraft to transmit images.

The Illusion Transmitter, which she invented and which has had a significant impact on NASA research, is her most well-known invention.

NASA widely adopted her idea and still produces video screens and televisions. In 1995, she left NASA to retire. 

Until her retirement in 1995, Thomas remained employed by NASA, including project manager for the Space Physics Analysis Network (SPAN) and, most recently, associate chief of the Space Science Data Operations Office. 

Thomas has contributed to developing SPAN (Space Physics Analysis Network) for studies of a supernova, the ozone hole, and Halley’s comet.

She was honored with multiple NASA awards for her contributions to science, including the NASA Equal Opportunity Medal and the Goddard Space Flight Centre Award of Merit. 

4. George Washington Carver

You may be unaware of the incredibly significant African American most famous black scientists, including George Washington Carver.

Carver lost both of his parents when he was a small child and was raised by his previous masters after being born into slavery during the American Civil War. 

He moved off the farm at the age of 11 to enroll in an all-black school nearby.

Carver moved to the West for the next ten years, attending school and making ends meet by using the housekeeping skills he picked up from different foster mothers because he was dissatisfied with the quality of his education.

Carver was encouraged to apply to Iowa State Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) to study botany by one of his teachers after he enrolled in Simpson College.

This Methodist institution accepted all eligible applicants to study music.

Carver graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 1894 and a Master of Science two years later, making history as the first African American to do so.

He ran the agricultural department at the Tuskegee Institute for a significant portion of his career, where he also made most of his scientific findings. 

The American peanut industry was founded by Washington Carver alone.

Through the use of a mobile classroom he designed, his research would teach crop rotation and plant fertilization to the destitute farmers of southeast Alabama. 

Washington Carver also made the nutritional connection between sweet potatoes and health.

He was awarded the 1923 Spingarn Medal and multiple patents for his findings.

This most famous black scientist was also admitted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame posthumously.

5. Brady Elmo

In 1884, Brady was born in Louisville, Kentucky. At the age of 20, he moved away from home to attend the all-black university Fisk University in Tennessee. 

He started teaching at Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University) after earning a degree in chemistry. 

Brady taught at Tuskegee for four years before receiving a scholarship to study at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

He graduated in 1916 as the first African-American to hold a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States.

Additionally, he was accepted into the chemistry honor society Phi Lambda Upsilon, becoming the first African-American to do so.

Brady would go on to create the first graduate Chemistry program at Howard University and spend 25 years refining the undergraduate program at Fisk University.

He also contributed to establishing the Chemistry department at Jackson, Mississippi’s Tougaloo College.

Brady’s work produced a number of firsts, including early contributions to the burgeoning discipline of physical organic chemistry and novel techniques for the preparation and purification of specific molecules.

He would become a highly esteemed teacher with positions at no fewer than four prestigious historically black colleges. Many chemists in the future would be inspired by his labor of love for education.

6. Dr. Betty Harris

In the 1940s, Harris’s parents were farmers in rural Louisiana, and she was the seventh of twelve children they had.

At sixteen, Harris enrolled in college and earned a B.Sc. in 1961 from Southern University with a minor in mathematics and chemistry.

Her degree was an M.Sc. in chemistry in 1963 from Georgia’s Atlanta University. 

Following the completion of her M.Sc., Harris had positions as an associate professor of chemistry and mathematics at Colorado College, Southern University, and Mississippi Valley State University, in addition to an assistant professor position.

Before working at IBM as a visiting staff member at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico, she completed her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of New Mexico in 1973. 

Harris was a research chemist at Los Alamos, where he worked on nuclear weapons and explosives, hazardous waste treatment, and environmental cleanup. Afterward, she created her TATB spot test to detect explosives in the field.

Globally, both military and civilian institutions have embraced her invention.

In 2002, Harris left LANL and enlisted in the US military. Department of Energy, Classification Office.

She is also a member of the American Society for the Advancement of Science and the American Chemical Society. 

7. Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson

When Jackson was younger, she conducted her own experiments (on honeybees) because she had a strong interest in science and math.

Later, she would use her love of science to obtain a physics B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D.

Jackson was the second African-American woman in the US to receive a doctorate in physics and the first woman in any area to do so from MIT.

She completed a fellowship at CERN and worked at Fermilab after earning her Ph.D.

She took a job at Bell Laboratories in 1976. She started out as an experimenter and researcher at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories, where she worked on projects involving real-world applications of theoretical physics. Later on, she would lead the U.S.

During the Clinton Administration, she served on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and went on to become the first African American woman to occupy the 18th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The most famous black scientists’ primary scientific achievements concerned improvements in telecommunications, which paved the way for the direct development of gadgets like fiber optic cables, portable fax machines, and touch-tone phones.

Jackson has been on the boards of directors of numerous organizations and has won numerous awards and accolades.

8. Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker is one of the most renowned African American African-American scientists you may not be familiar with.

Son of former slaves, Banneker was a self-taught farmer and astronomer best known for his popular line of astronomical almanacs that forecasted solar eclipses, sunrises, and sunsets. 

In addition, a number of paragraphs included guidance on growing crops, seasonal adjustments, medicinal treatments, and weather forecasts.

The U.S. Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, received copies of Banneker’s first almanac and other materials outlining his views on racial equality. 

Among his many achievements were building an irrigation system for the family farm and a wooden clock that was said to have kept accurate time for over 50 years.

Banneker also contributed to surveying the area that would become Washington, D.C. He passed away on October 25, 1806, at home. His age was seventy-five.

9. Dr. James Edward Maceo West

West is most recognized for his contributions to the electroacoustic transducer’s development.

Approximately 90% of contemporary microphones, the majority of phones, outdated cassette recorders, camcorders, and other gadgets like baby monitors and hearing aids all have this tiny chip.

After completing his physics studies at Temple University in 1957, Bell employed West as a full-time acoustical scientist, where he created the transducer.

Later, in 1998, West became a National Academy of Engineering member and was named president-elect of the Acoustical Society of America.

In 1999, the most famous black scientist was also admitted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his contributions to STEM.

10. Dr. Leonidas Berry

Berry was born in Woodsdale, North Carolina, the son of a Methodist minister, in 1902 and raised in a segregated South.

He spent six decades practicing medicine in Chicago following his education at Wilberforce University and the University of Chicago Medical School.

He worked as an attending physician in gastroenterology at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.. And Chicago’s Provident and Cook County Hospitals until his retirement in 1975.

Berry’s contributions to endoscopy and gastroscopy are the most well-known.

The most famous black scientist gained recognition throughout the world in 1955 for co-inventing the Elder-Berry biopsy gastroscopy, a tool used in stomach biopsies. 

Berry also discovered that, contrary to what was widely believed at the time, drinking injured the liver rather than the stomach.

The most famous black scientists were also credited for developing the “Berry Plan,” a novel approach to clinic-based addiction treatment.

He wrote nearly a hundred publications in medical journals and gave speeches at conferences worldwide. 

In 1946, he was employed as courtesy staff at Chicago’s Michael Reese Hospital, making history as the hospital’s first African-American medical staff member.

Because of racial discrimination, Berry had to wait 17 years to be hired as a permanent staff member at the hospital despite his fame.

He was deeply active in the civil rights movement in the 1950s as a result of his experiences.

Following his treatment of wounded protesters during the 1965 Selma, Alabama, voting rights march, he founded a remote area medical service to offer medical attention and health education in outlying locations.

11. Alice Ball 

Ball was born the granddaughter of famous daguerreotypist James Presley Ball, a photographer whose technique is now outdated.

She attended the University of Washington to study chemistry, graduating in 1912 with a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical chemistry and a second degree in pharmacy two years later. 

Ball relocated to Hawaii, where she earned her master’s degree in chemistry from the College of Hawaii (now the University of Hawaii) in 1915, making history as the first African-American woman to do so.

At the age of just 23, she became the first female and African-American chemistry instructor at the University of Hawaii.

She then started experimenting with using chaulmoogra oil to treat leprosy patients with Hansen’s illness. 

Despite the fact that the oil had previously been applied topically, Ball was able to separate it into its constituent fatty acids and produce an injectable, water-soluble version.

This would be the first effective treatment for this crippling illness in history.

Sadly, she would pass away at the young age of 24 from complications resulting from a laboratory accident, and she would never be acknowledged for the accomplishments she made during her lifetime.  

12. George Edward Alcorn 

Alcorn’s auto technician father was committed to securing an education for his son and brother.

In 1962, Alcorn earned a B.A. from Occidental College in Pasadena, California.

About physics. He graduated from Howard University with a master’s degree in nuclear physics in 1963. 

He worked in the industry for 12 years. He was an advisor at IBM Corporation, a senior scientist at Philco-Ford, and a senior physicist at Parker-Elmer after receiving his doctorate in atomic and molecular physics from Howard University in 1967.

Later, he joined Howard University as a visiting professor of electrical engineering for IBM before being promoted to full professor. 

In 1978, Alcorn left IBM to work with NASA. The most famous black scientist used aluminum thermo-migration to create an image x-ray spectrometer while NASA employed him.

He was awarded a patent for this invention and the 1984 NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre (GSFC) Inventor of the Year Award.

Two years later, he developed a better fabrication technique that used laser drilling. 

He oversaw the GSFC Evolution Programme, ensured the space station’s development, created new technologies needed for the space station “Freedom,” and held the position of Chief of the GSFC Office of Commercial Programmes.

13. Jane C. Wright

Wright’s father held his girls to a high standard because he was one of the first most famous black scientists to graduate from Harvard Medical School.

Wright attended Smith College to study painting, but her father convinced her to enroll in New York Medical School to study medicine instead. 

She committed herself to medical research after working as a residence physician at Bellevue and Harlem Hospitals.

Wright would devote her professional life to expanding on her father’s pioneering work in the field of cancer research.

She and her father started experimenting with chemotherapy combinations in the late 1940s to treat lymphatic system cancer and leukemia.

She is recognized for creating a method that uses human tissue rather than lab animals to examine how medications affect cancer cells.

Dr. Wright was nominated to the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966.

She rose to prominence at a nationally renowned medical institution in 1967 when she was appointed associate dean, head of the Cancer Chemotherapy Department, and professor of surgery at New York Medical College. 

The most famous black scientist was the New York Cancer Society’s first female president, having been elected in 1971.

Following her retirement in 1987, Wright was named an Emeritus Professor at New York Medical College, a position she held until her passing in 2013. 

14. Dorothy Vaughan

In 1925, Vaughan received his diploma from Beechurst High School.

Later, she received her B.A. in mathematics from Wilberforce University in 1929.

During the Great Depression, she supported her family by teaching mathematics in high school. 

She accepted what she believed to be a short-term wartime position at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1943, analyzing aeronautical research.

Due to Jim Crow restrictions, she had to work alone with her white female coworkers at the time. 

Vaughan became the first black supervisor at NACA when she was elevated to group leader in 1949.

This gave her the opportunity to work on projects with other well-known human computers.

Segregation at the institute was eliminated in 1958 when the NACA changed its name to NASA, and Vaughan was assigned to the newly formed Analysis and Computation Division (ACD).

She was a master programmer who made revolutionary contributions to the spread of FORTRAN and greatly benefited the U.S. Mission to Space.

She would fight for gender and racial equality for the rest of her life.

15. Ronald McNair 

McNair was born in 1950 and attended North Carolina A&T State University before earning his degree in 1971.

Later, in 1976, he graduated with a doctorate in physics from MIT.

McNair was chosen for the NASA Astronaut Programme after graduating from college.

Following his obligatory training, he completed 191 hours in space on the 1984-launched STS 41-B mission.

He developed high-pressure CO lasers and HF/DF lasers while he was employed at NASA. Sadly, McNair lost his life in the 1986 Challenger Space Shuttle tragedy. 

16. Katherine Johnson

Johnson was the eldest of four siblings. Her parents fostered her interest in and ability for mathematics throughout adulthood, as she demonstrated an affinity for it at an early age. 

Her family arranged for her to attend high school in West Virginia because the county where she was raised did not provide public education for African-American pupils beyond the eighth grade.

At the age of eighteen, Johnson attended West Virginia State University and earned a summa cum laude degree in both mathematics and French.

After graduating, she worked as a teacher until 1952, when she joined NASA at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.

Johnson began her career at NACA as a “human computer”. He later worked on the space program as an aeronautical technologist, calculating the trajectories for numerous NASA flights after NACA was renamed NASA.

When NASA initially employed electronic computers for computing during the Mercury space missions, astronaut John Glenn would not take off until Johnson had confirmed the calculations.

Throughout her career, she also published 26 scientific papers. 

17. Warren M. Washington

Washington was born in 1936 to a waiter for a father and a practical nurse for a mother.

Her first suggestion to her son was to study business early, but he decided to become a scientist.

Due to this choice, he became one of the most significant atmospheric and most famous black scientists in the country.

Oregon State University awarded Warren a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in meteorology.

Later 1964, he graduated with a Ph.D. in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University.

After leaving academia, Warren worked as a research assistant before becoming an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan.

Later, starting in 1972, he would be employed at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research. 

He advanced to become the Director of the Climate and Global Dynamics Division by 1987.

Warren was elected President of the American Meteorological Society in 1994 after serving as the President’s National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere from 1978 to 1984.

18. Annie Easley 

Easley was one of the pioneering rocket, most famous black scientists, and computer scientists who created a number of very significant NASA software programs.

Still, her work on NASA’s Centaur rocket is what has made her most famous. 

At Xavier University, Easley first pursued her studies to become a chemist. Soon after, she lost hope and left in 1954.

She worked as a substitute teacher after getting married before joining NASA’s “Human Computers” in 1955. 

After NACA changed its name to NASA, she stayed on staff and eventually received her B.Sc. in Mathematics from the University of Cleveland in 1977.

After spending 34 years with NACA/NASA, Annie turned her attention to conservation systems and alternative energy technologies in her later studies. 

19. Arthur B. C. Walker Jr.

In 1936, Walker was born as the sole child of a social worker mother and a lawyer father.

Afterward, he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at the Case Western Institute of Technology in 1957.

The University of Illinois awarded him a master’s degree in nuclear physics in 1958 and a doctorate in the same field in 1962. 

1962, he enlisted in the Air Force and was sent to the weapons laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio as a second lieutenant.

He contributed to the instrumentation build for a satellite launch experiment designed to monitor radiation from the Van Allen belt.

He was employed at the Aerospace Corporation’s Space Physics Laboratory in California from 1965 until 1974.

He gained in-depth knowledge of solar radiation, particularly soft X-rays and intense UV light.

Working with other famous black scientists, Arthur used his knowledge by creating the scientific method known as multilayer technology.

In the end, this would result in the creation of equipment that is currently aboard two of NASA’s main satellites.

1974, Walker joined Stanford University as a physics and applied physics professor.

Sally K. Ride, the first American woman in space and a potential astronaut, was his first doctorate student.

Walker was nominated to lead the presidential panel looking into the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. 

Walker is well recognized for his groundbreaking work with solar telescopes and EUV/XUV optics.

In the 1980s, these telescopes would capture the first pictures of the Sun’s outer atmosphere.

He oversaw a group of scientists that applied normal incidence X-ray optical systems to astronomical observation for the first time in the 1990s.

20. Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tyson was raised in Castle Hill, the Bronx, and was the second of three children.

His first visit to the Hayden Planetarium at the age of nine ignited his passion for astronomy. 

Tyson would go on to make his boyhood interest into a career out of it by attending Harvard University for his undergraduate studies in Physics and the University of Austin for his master’s. 

After that, the most famous black scientist earned an MPhil in astronomy from Columbia University in 1989 and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the same institution in 1991.

Following his MPhil and PhD studies at Princeton, he lectured. In 1994, he started working at the Hayden Planetarium.

In 1995, Tyson rose through the ranks to become the planetarium’s director, and he was one of the twelve members of the Bush Administration’s group to examine the future of the US aerospace industry. 

Tyson quickly established himself as a distinguished scientist in his own right, penning 13 books and many research articles.

Many people know him best from his prominent roles in television shows like “The Universe” on the History Channel and “Origin” on PBS, in addition to his ongoing radio show “Star Talk.”

21. Bettye Washington Greene

Bettye Greene is also one of the most famous black scientists. Greene received her B.Sc. from Fort Worth, Texas, where she was born in Physical Chemistry from Wayne State University in 1962, and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Tuskegee Institute in 1955. 

1965, she started working at the Dow Chemical Company’s Research Laboratory in Midland, Michigan, following her doctorate.

Greene’s contributions to the field of latex manufacturing and other polymers are her most well-known accomplishments. 

She is also recognized for being the first female African-American chemist employed on a professional basis by Dow Chemical.

In 1970, she received a promotion to Senior Research Chemist. She would stay employed at Dow until 1990, when she decided to retire.

22. Charles Henry Turner

Following his graduation as valedictorian of his class in 1886, Turner went on to the University of Cincinnati, where he obtained a B.S. in 1891 in biology and an M.Sc. degree the following year in biology as well. 

Before going back to school in 1907 and becoming the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in zoology (magna cum laude) from the University of Chicago, he taught at a number of different colleges.

Following his stay at the university, he committed the rest of his life to entomology study and teaching high school. 

Throughout his career, Turner authored over 70 scientific publications.

Among these were some highly influential works, such as Psychological Notes on the Gallery Spider and Hunting Habits of an American Sand Wasp.

His passion for insects would also drive him to demonstrate the abilities of insects, such as their ability to hear and discriminate pitch, learn by doing, and sort of their ability to see in color. 

23. Lloyd Albert Quarterman

Quarterman, who was born in 1918 in Philadelphia, became interested in chemistry quite quickly.

He studied at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he graduated in 1943 with a bachelor’s in chemistry.

He was one of the very few most famous black scientists hired for the top-secret Manhattan Project shortly after graduating, having been chosen by the War Department to work on the project.

Quarterman worked closely with Albert Einstein at Columbia University and Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago despite being merely a junior chemist on the project.

The principal work of Quarterman was developing and applying a distillation technique for the large-scale purification of hydrogen fluoride required for the separation and enrichment of uranium-235 isotopes.

He spent the next thirty years as an employee of the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago following the war.

In addition to his work on the bomb, Quarterman created novel chemical compounds by working with fluoride solutions.

In order to better understand hydrogen fluoride, he created a diamond “window” that was impervious to corrosion in 1967.

In addition, the most famous black scientists contributed to developing the first nuclear reactor for atomic-powered submarines and invented a new substance called xenon.

24. Joan Murrell Owens 

Owens was the youngest of three children when he was born in Miami, Florida.

Her parents supported her desire to become a marine scientist as she grew up close to the ocean and quickly developed an interest in aquatic life. She studied at Fisk University, where there were no courses in marine biology. 

Owens chose to study fine arts instead, and he eventually earned an MS in reading therapy and guide counseling.

She later established educational programs that continue to have an impact on US government policy while working with children in a psychiatric hospital, undergraduate students, and high school students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.

But she never lost sight of her childhood ambition, and in 1970, she enrolled at George Washington University, fusing zoology and geology modules to create a degree that was roughly similar to a marine biology curriculum. which when taken as a whole, let her study marine biology.

She returned to Howard as a geology lecturer in 1976 after earning her master’s degree in 1976 and her bachelor’s degree in 1973. 

Owens became the first female African-American Ph.D. holder in geology in 1985. 

Owens could not scuba dive due to her sickle cell characteristics.

Therefore, she focused on laboratory work using coral specimens that had been previously gathered during a British expedition in 1880. 

Following her doctorate from George Washington University, the most famous black scientists joined the Howard University faculty as a professor of biology before moving on to the Department of Geology and Geography.

The genus Rhombopsammia is most recognized for the multiple new species that Owens discovered. 

In 1994, she also named L, a new species for the genus Letepsammia.

Franki in memory of her spouse, Frank A. Owens. Because of her health problems, most of her research was conducted in the lab where she classified and studied button corals from the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. 

25. Margaret S. Collins 

Collins was born in Institute, West Virginia, in September 1922. At the age of 14, she began college as a young prodigy.

Collins graduated from West Virginia State University with a B.Sc. in Science and Biology in 1943 and from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in 1950. 

Throughout her career, she did fieldwork in North and South America and taught at Howard University and Florida A&M University.

She became the third African-American woman zoologist in the United States and the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in entomology. 

She drove for free during the Tallahassee bus boycott and was also quite active in the Civil Rights movement.

Bomb threats were directed towards her speeches as a result of her advocacy for equality and civil rights.

The most famous black scientists focused their studies mostly on termites. In particular, their etymology, general ecology, defensive mechanisms, evolution, and ability to withstand high temperatures. 

Collins worked with the Smithsonian’s Department of Entomology to research termites in Guyana from the late 1970s to the 1990s.

Thanks to these missions, Collin taught the Guyana military how to construct structures without termite damage and how to fortify construction materials with termite excrement.

In April 1996, while researching in the Cayman Islands, she passed unexpectedly. 

26. Ernest Everett

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Just attended Dartmouth College where he studied botany, sociology, and history.

In 1907, the most famous black scientists graduated as the only magna cum laude student.

He held positions at the Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory and Howard University throughout his career.

He received a magna cum laude degree in experimental embryology and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

He is most recognized for his groundbreaking work in developing specific methods in many physiology-related fields.

These included developments in the fields of fertilization, parthenogenesis in experimentation, cell division, hydration, diversion, and dehydration of cells, as well as the effects of UV radiation on cancerous cells.

In addition, he served as the editor of three academic journals and was granted a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship in Biology, which allowed him to work across Europe.

Among the numerous articles, the most famous black scientists published in Europe were his contributions to the General Cytology textbook released in 1924.

27. James Andrew Harris 

James Andrew Harris is next on our list of the most famous black scientists.

Following high school, Harris enrolled at Huston-Tillotson College, where he completed his undergraduate studies in Chemistry in 1953. Racial prejudice made it difficult for him to get employment as a chemist. 

After serving in the army, the most famous black scientists eventually got a job as a radiochemist at the Tracerlab in Richmond, California.

After accepting a job at the Lawrence Radiation Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1960, Harris became the first most famous black scientist to work on projects that generated or discovered new elements.

Harris headed the Nuclear Chemistry Division’s Heavy Isotopes Production Group in spite of not holding a Ph.D.

The two discoveries for which Harris is most well-known are Rutherfordium (Element 104) and Dubnium (Element 105). But about the same time, a Russian team made an equivalent assertion. 

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (UPAC) decided on the current naming of the elements and accepted both claims, thus resolving the debate.

Harris and the UOC team kept looking for other super-heavy elements to find practical uses in energy production and medicine after identifying elements 104 and 105. 

28. Emmett Chappelle 

Chappelle was raised in Phoenix, Arizona, on a modest farm.

Later, in the Second World War, he enlisted in the American Army and had some engineering instruction there.

He was sent to Italy and reassigned to the all-black 91st Infantry Division. 

In 1950, he graduated with a B.Sc. in Biology from the University of California following the war.

After that, he spent several years teaching biochemistry at Meharry Medical College, where he also started studying anaphylactic shock and red blood cell iron recycling.

He was contacted by several prestigious universities with offers, and the University of Washington awarded him a master’s degree in biology in 1954. 

In 1958, Chappelle left Stanford to work at the Research Institute for Advanced Studies after starting his doctorate there.

There, the most famous black scientists conducted studies on providing astronauts with safe, breathable air.

In 1966, he relocated to NASA, where he remained employed until his retirement in 2001.

Chappelle is well known for his research on environmental management advancements and the discovery of life on Mars. 

In addition to writing approximately 50 conference papers and more than 35 peer-reviewed scientific or technical publications, he also co-authored or edited many publications in his field. 

In addition, he was elected into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007 for his work on fluorescence in living things.

The most famous black scientists possessed 14 patents, most of which had to do with fluorescence assays.

Chappelle was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal and listed among the “Top 100 Black American Scientists and Engineers of the 20th Century.

29. Patricia S. Cowings 

In 1973, Cowings received her doctorate in psychology from the University of California, Davis. In 1971, she became a graduate student at NASA.

She was the first female American to receive NASA training as a scientist-astronaut and was considered a backup astronaut for a space mission in 1979.

Despite never having traveled to space, she has devoted her career at NASA to researching the effects of gravity on human physiology and performance in order to help astronauts better adapt to space travel.

Over her career, the most famous black scientist has led numerous research as the lead investigator.

The Autogenic-Feedback Training Exercise (AFTE), which treats space motion sickness, is perhaps the most well-known.

Using this method, astronauts can learn to regulate 20 physiological reactions, such as heart rate and involuntary muscle spasms.

Throughout her career, Patricia was recognized with numerous accolades.

These included, among others, the National Women of Colour Technology Award in 2006 and the NASA Individual Achievement Award in 1993. 

30. Charles R. Drew 

Charles R. Drew was born into a middle-class family in Washington, D.C., in 1904. His mother was a qualified teacher, while his father laid carpets.

Drew worked as a paperboy at the nearby Dunbar High School during his early adolescence. 

He received a sports scholarship at Amherst College in Massachusetts after graduating in 1922, where he studied until 1926. He didn’t have enough money for medical school after college. 

Before attending McGill University in Canada for medical school, he spent two years as a coach and biology instructor at Morgan College (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore.

This was where Drew was first exposed to the blood transfusion and preservation field, which would, regrettably, take up much of his brief life.

Drew graduated in 1933 in second place in his class with medical and surgery degrees.

Before receiving his Ph.D. in 1940, John Scudder enlisted Drew’s assistance in creating a prototype blood storage and preservation program to support the British war effort.

His name and renown were cemented in history by his groundbreaking efforts. 

Drew would be named director of the first American Red Cross Blood Bank shortly afterward.

In addition, he would be honored to be appointed to the American Board of Surgery as an examiner.

To great acclaim, Drew carried out studies and taught in his profession after the war until his death in 1950. 

Following a serious auto accident, this most famous black scientist passed away in 1950 at the age of 45.

Since his passing, Drew has been remembered with buildings, departments, and awards named in his honor by a number of medical and post-secondary educational establishments, schools, and other American public services.  

31. Marie Van Brittan Brown

On October 30, 1922, Marie Van Brittan Brown was born in Queens, New York. While her spouse was an electrician, Brown worked as a nurse in her adult life. 

Due to their jobs, this most famous black scientist and her spouse frequently had to work long hours and leave her house alone at night.

This, along with the length of time it took the police in her violent neighborhood to answer calls, motivated her to create one of the earliest home security systems ever created. 

She began by creating an inventive camera and peephole system for her front door.

Still, she ultimately determined that having a radio-controlled, wireless system of cameras and wireless televisions would be more useful.

Eventually, she streamed the movie to every television in the house using a radio-controlled system.  A two-way microphone system that enabled residents to converse remotely with whoever was at the doorstep was one of the later innovations. 

Marie and her spouse filed a patent application for their idea on August 1, 1966, after realizing the potential of their creation.

The most famous black scientist’s husband’s name was lower than hers; this would be the first patent.

On December 2, 1969, the government approved the patent, and four days later, the New York Times published a piece on her creation.

Potential clients took a while to adopt Brown’s CCTV system, but in the end, it became the benchmark for all contemporary systems. 

32. Percy Julian

Percy Julian is ending our list of the most famous black scientists. On April 11, 1899, Percy Julian was born in Montgomery, Alabama.

Julian, a former slave’s grandson, attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where he excelled academically and graduated top of his class.

Julian taught chemistry at Fisk University after graduating from college, but he left in 1923 to attend Harvard University on a scholarship.

Later, in 1931, he received his doctorate from the University of Vienna in Austria. 

Most people associate these most famous black scientists with being trailblazing scientists who created essential pharmaceuticals, including steroids, birth control tablets, and cortisone.

Throughout his life, he was recognized with numerous accolades, medals, and other distinctions and received numerous patents for his work.

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