All That’s Black: Emmett Chappelle

Emmett Chappelle, scientist & innovator:

Photo Credit: National Inventors Hall of Fame

He’s one of the most influential scientists of the 21st century, and many of us don’t even know his name.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Emmett Chapelle had a passion for learning as a young boy, but upon his graduation from high school, he was drafted into the United States Army.

He didn’t let his drafting stop him, entering Phoenix College for an associate’s in electrical engineering before going on to receive a B.S. in biology from the University of California at Berkeley.

His focus on innovation helped him successfully patent over a dozen ideas, including an oxygen supply system for astronauts, ways to remove soil from Mars, and techniques (still widely used today) to detect bacteria in the blood, water, spinal fluid, and food.

His work identifying bioluminescence (emission of light by living organisms), helps us monitor the growth of crops and could even be used to help us identify life on other planets. So when we eventually find those aliens, hats off to Emmett Chapelle for leading the way.

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