Inspiration and Role Models

  • Gloria Long Anderson, Black American Chemist and Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Chemistry at Morris Brown College. She is also the Vice President for Academic Affairs. Here research focuses on Fluorine-19.
  • Alice Ball, Pharmaceutical Chemist. Developed the first injectable leprosy treatment.
  • Luis Campos, organic materials chemist, and one of C&EN’s 2016 “Talented Twelve”
  • Emmett Chappelle, Black American biochemist who has made significant advancements in medicine, food science, and Astrochemistry, While at NASA, developed means of detecting life on Mars and improve environmental management.
  • Marie Daly, the first African American woman to receive a doctorate in chemistry in the United States
  • Bettye Washington Greene, African-American woman Ph.D. chemist to work at the Dow Chemical Company, polymer and latex development.
  • Lloyd Hall,Black American (African American) Inventor, Scientist and Chemist; best known for his work on food preservation techniques
  • James Andrew Harris, Black American (African American) Nuclear Chemist, helped discover elements 104 (Rutherfordium) and 105 (Dubnium)
  • Walter Lincoln Hawkins, chemist, inventor, and advocate for Black Americans in science. He is most famed for his invention of the ‘plastic cable sheath.
  • Alma Levant Hayden, Black American Scientist and Chemist. Worked at the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases, then moved to the FDA. This is widely accepted to be the first official position of employment given to a Black American at the FDA.
  • Henry Hill, polymer chemist who supplied essential chemical intermediates to the polymer-products industry; 1977 ACS President
  • Percy Julian, Medicinal Chemist; total synthesis of physostigmine (used for glaucoma treatment); discovered how to mass produce stigmasterol while Research Director at Glidden Soya Division (used for sex hormone production); developed industrial synthesis route for cortisone and hydrocortisone; active in groups seeking to advance conditions for African Americans.
  • Reatha Clark King, Black American Physical Chemist and Businesswoman; first Black American chemist at National Bureau of Standards; second President of the Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis; retired Executive Director of General Mills Corporation
  • Lawrence Knox, Physical Organic Chemist (brother of William Knox); studied the mechanism of nucleophilic substitution in aliphatic compounds; worked on total synthesis of quinine; resident director at the Hickrill Chemical Research Foundation; coauthored 10 papers and was awarded over 40 patents related to steroid chemistry while at Laboratorios Syntex S.A.
  • William Knox, Chemical Engineer (brother of Lawrence Knox); worked to mitigate corrosion problems caused by uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) in uranium isotopes separation; research associate at Eastman Kodak, introducing surfactants into photographic emulsions to improve the manufacturing process and raise the quality of photographic film; major figure in the Rochester civil-rights movement; instrumental in creating scholarships for minority students
  • Beebe Steven Lynk, one of the first African-American female chemistry teachers in the United States, author, and co-founder of the University of West Tennessee
  • Henry Cecil McBay, chemistry teacher, developed a chemistry education program for Liberia for UNESCO, recipient of Norton Prize for Excellence in Chemistry Research
  • Leland D. Melvin, Black American Scientist, Materials Engineer, and Former NASA Astronaut.
  • Mario Molina, Mexican Physical Chemist; known for his study on the effect on Earth’s upper atmosphere of man-made compounds. He noted that some compounds, such as chlorofluorocarbons, were having an adverse effect on the ozone layer; He shared a Nobel Prize in 1995 for his research on how man-made compounds affect the ozone layer
  • Lloyd Albert Quarterman, one of very few black scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project. He designed and built a special distillation system to purify large amounts of hydrogen fluoride needed to separate Uranium isotope U-235.
  • Margaret E. M. Tolbert, Black American (African American) Scientist and Biochemist; first Black American Woman to be in charge of the Department of Energy Lab.

This page is a continuous work in progress, and can’t possibly be authoritative and complete. However, we do strive to be inclusive. Do you know of an inspirational minority chemist or chemical engineer who should be included on this page? Drop us a note with the form below. Be sure to include a very short biography and a URL for further reading.