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Black Chemists - African American History

Black scientists, engineers, and inventors have made important contributions to the science of chemistry. Learn about black chemists and chemical engineers and their projects. The focus is on African American chemists.

Patricia Bath - (USA) In 1988, Patricia Bath invented the Cataract Laser Probe, a device that painlessly removes cataracts. Prior to this invention, cataracts were surgically removed.

Patricia Bath founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness.

George Washington Carver - (1864-1943) George Washington Carver was an agricultural chemist who discovered industrial uses for crop plants such as sweet potatoes, peanuts and soybeans. He developed methods for improving soil. Carver recognized that legumes return nitrates to the soil. His work led to crop rotation. Carver was born a slave in Missouri. He struggled to gain an education, eventually graduating from what was to become Iowa State University. He joined the faculty of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1986. Tuskegee is where he performed his famous experiments.

Marie Daly - (1921–2003) In 1947, Marie Daly became the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry. The majority of her career was spent as a college professor. In addition to her research, she developed programs to attract and aid minority students in medical and graduate school.

Mae Jemison - (Born 1956) Mae Jemison is a retired medical doctor and American astronaut. In 1992, she became the first black woman in space. She holds a degree in chemical engineering from Stanford and a degree in medicine from Cornell. She remains very active in science and technology.

Percy Julian - (1899-1975) Percy Julian developed the anti-glaucoma drug physostigmine.

Dr. Julian was born in Montgomery, Alabama, but educational opportunities for African Americans were limited in the South at that time, so he received his undergraduate degree from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. His research was conducted at DePauw University. (Science Blog offers a more detailed

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