Black History Month Feature: Notable Innovators


Black History Month Feature: Notable Innovators

By Adventure Science Center

Each week throughout Black History Month - February, we have loved sharing stories of notable Black innovators on our social channels. Because those stories don't even begin to scratch the surface of the incredible contributions made by African American scientists, engineers, and change-makers alike, we've listed a few more below that are sure to insight a "wooooah!" or two. And, don't worry, we've added the features from our social channels as well! 

Lewis H. Latimer - Brought Electricity to the Masses

(1848 - 1928)

While Thomas Edison is more commonly known as the inventor of the lightbulb because he received the first patent for the "practical incandescent", he did not make this discovery alone. Latimer can be thanked for bringing electricity to the masses as he helped install broad-scale lighting systems for major cities like New York City and London.

>> Learn more about Latimer here

Henry T. Sampson - Nuclear Engineering Pioneer

(1934 - 2015)

As well as being a prolific inventor, Sampson is also to thank for technology that is used in modern cell phones. In 1971, he co-invented the Gamma-Electric cell, which converts high radiation energy (gamma rays) into electricity, with George H. Miley. Sampson also held several patents focusing on the development of rocket fuels.

>> Learn more about Sampson here

Ayana E. Johnson - Led the Caribbean's first-ever successful ocean zoning project

(1980 - )

Johnson is a marine biologist, environmental strategist, and policy expert who holds a BA in Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her dissertation focused on the bionomics and economic and social elements of sustainable coral reef maintenance. In 2013, Johnson co-founded the Blue Halo Initiative, a zoning project that resulted in the protection of the coastal waters of Barbuda. 

>> Learn more about Johnson here

Hildreth "Hal" Walker, Jr. - Effectively Measured the Distance between Earth and the Moon using a laser for the Apollo 11 mission

(1933 - )

NASA Scientist, Hildreth "Hal" Walker, Jr., was a critical team lead during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. During that mission, Walker directed a laser beam from Lick Observatory in Mt. Hamilton, CA to make contact with the 18-inch-wide reflector mirror on the moon's surface that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set up. This achievement, now known as the Lunar Ranging Experiment (LURE), is also a milestone of the Institue of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which recognizes major accomplishments in the field of electrical engineering. 

>> Read more about Walker here

Shirley Ann Jackson - First Black woman to earn a Ph.D. from MIT

(1946 - )

Not only is Jackson the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. from MIT, but she is also the second African American woman to earn a doctorate in physics. In 2002, Discover magazine recognized Jackson as one of the 50 most important women in science. Jackson's research enabled inventions like portable fax, touch-tone telephones, solar cells, and fiber optic cables.

>> Read more about Jackson here

Dr. Patricia Bath - Invented a laser that dissolves cataracts

(1942 - 2019)

>> Read our feature on Dr. Bath here

Frederick McKinley Jones - Inventor of the refrigerated truck

(1893 - 1961)

>> Check out our Jones feature here

Mary Kenner - Creator of the accessible toilet paper holder 

(1912 - 2006)

>> Visit our Instagram to learn more about Kenner here

Garrett Morgan - Three-Way Traffic Light Inventor

(1877 - 1963)

>> Learn more about Morgan here

Special thanks to EY for their generous support of our Black History Month programming

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