African-American scientists and mathematicians have made tremendous contributions in their fields of study, but you may not be familiar with their names and stories. For example, did you know that Daniel Hale Williams (1856–1931) was the first doctor to perform open-heart surgery in the United States? And that Garrett Augustus Morgan (1877–1963) invented both the gas mask and the traffic signal?
Just last month, Katherine Johnson (born 1918) received a Science Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with NASA, where — as a former Virginia schoolteacher who became a Langley Research Center mathematician — she worked on the teams that calculated flight paths for John Glenn’s mission in 1962 and Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk in 1969.
And Robert Satcher (born 1965), who earned his doctorate in chemical engineering, is an astronaut for NASA today. He has been assigned as a mission specialist for STS-129, which is scheduled for launch in October of this year. Dr. Satcher is featured in Morehead’s “Destination: Space” planetarium show — come see him on the Star Theater dome!
Karen Kornegay is Morehead's marketing manager.