Samuel Elmer Imes
Birthplace: Memphis, Tenn.
In 1918, Samuel Elmer Imes became only the second African American to earn a doctorate in physics. His dissertation broke new scientific ground, presenting a new form of research, that fundamentally changed quantum theory. In discovering how to determine molecular structure through high-resolution infrared spectroscopy, particularly, measuring the distance between atoms, Imes proved that quantum theory could be applied to all things at the molecular level. He served as head of the Physics department at his alma mater, Fisk University, from 1930 to his death in 1941.
A slave, Bradley was employed at a printing office and later at the Annapolis Naval Academy, where he helped set up scientific experiments. In the 1840s he developed a steam engine for a war ship. Unable to patent his work, he sold it and with the proceeds purchased his freedom.
David Crosthwait, Jr.
Birthplace: Nashville, Tenn.
David Crosthwait held numerous patents relating to heat transfer, ventilation, and air conditioning, the areas in which he was considered an expert. Holding B. S. and M. S. degrees from Purdue University in engineering, Crosthwait began working as a research engineer and director of research laboratories for C. A. Dunham Company, in Marshalltown, Iowa. He served as technical advisor to Dunham from 1930 to 1970 and, in addition to designing the heating system for Radio City Music Hall in New York City, he authored texts and guides on heating and cooling with water. After his retirement in 1970, Crosthwait taught at Purdue University.
Clarence L. Elder
engineer and inventor
A native of Georgia, Clarence Elder founded Elder Systems Incorporated, a research and development company located in Baltimore, Maryland. Elder developed Occustat, a monitoring and energy conservation system. Designed to reduce energy usage in buildings, Occustat works by using a light beam aimed across building and room entrances to monitor traffic and, thus, occupancy. When the building or room is empty, heating, cooling, and lighting controls are lowered, reducing energy consumption by as much as 30 percent. Occustat is in use in hotels and schools. Elder, a graduate of Morgan State College, has also received 12 additional patents in the United States and abroad.
Thomas L. Jennings
Birthplace: New York, N.Y.
A tailor in New York City, Jennings is credited with being the first African American to hold a U.S. patent. The patent, which was issued in 1821, was for a dry-cleaning process.
Frederick McKinley Jones
Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio
Jones was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. An experienced mechanic, he invented a self-starting gas engine and a series of devices for movie projectors. More importantly, he invented the first automatic refrigeration system for long-haul trucks (1935). Jones was awarded more than 40 patents in the field of refrigeration.
Percy Lavon Julian
Birthplace: Montgomery, Ala.
In addition to an extensive teaching career at such colleges as DePauw University, which would not offer him a professorship because he was African American, Howard University and West Virginia State College, Percy Lavon Julian made significant discoveries in the private sector. In 1935 Julian developed physostigmine, a drug that is used in the treatment of glaucoma. While working for the Glidden Company, Julian worked with the soya bean, developing a protein that helped to develop AeroFoam a fire extinguisher used by the Navy. After leaving Glidden, Julian, who held a bachelor's degree from DePauw, a Master's degree from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Vienna, founded Julian Research, focusing on the production of sterols. He synthesized the female hormone progesterone, and the male hormone testosterone by extracting sterols from soybean oil. His most famous exploit however, is his synthesis of cortisone which is used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
Granville T. Woods
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio.
Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio, and later settled in Cincinnati. Largely self-educated, he was awarded more than 60 patents. One of his most important inventions was a telegraph that allowed moving trains to communicate with other trains and train stations, thus improving railway efficiency and safety.
Ernest Everett Just
Birthplace: Charleston, S.C.
Although he was born in the segregated conditions of the South, Ernest Everett Just became one of the most highly respected scientists of his time, graduating magna *** laude from Dartmouth College in 1907, earning a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1916, and teaching at Howard University in Washington, D.C. from 1909 until his death in 1941. Critical to scientific reputation was his research at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, beginning in 1909. Just published more than 50 scientific papers based on his 20 years at Woods Hole. In addition, he wrote one of the most important text books of the 20th century, Biology of the Cell Surface (1939). Beginning in 1929, he engaged in an extensive amount of research in Europe, which lasted until his return to the United States in 1940. Having been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he died the following year.