Emmett Chappelle

Emmett Chappelle

Emmett Chappelle, an African American was born to black parents who practiced farming on their farm. They grew cotton and could herd their cattle in their farm. He was born and raised in a time when black people were separated from white people due to the difference in their skin color. For this reason, Emmett had to attend a different school, Phoenix Union Colored High School which was set aside for black children only. He was a bright student and emerged the top occasionally in his class. He studied electrical engineering which he later deviated from to focus in biological sciences.

He attended the University of California and would later join Meharry Medical College in Nashville where he worked for three years despite having not achieved graduate training. Emmett, later on, joined Washington University in 1953 where he pursued an advanced degree. Emmett earned a masters in science focusing on Biochemistry, but, he never completed a Ph. D. He then joined other institutions such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration where he worked as an exobiologist and astrochemist, Goddard Space Center where he was charged with the responsibility of analyzing and monitoring remote sensing devices (Emmett et al. 1992) and Viking Spacecraft where he helped develop instruments to collect soil from the surface of Mars.

Emmett Chappelle played essential roles in the history of the American field of biological sciences by playing an integral part in some research and inventions. These discoveries later proved to be of great importance as the world adopted them at large. An example of his work includes the detection of adenosine triphosphate which is a vital compound in all living organisms. He was best known for his work on bioluminescence. He used luciferase and luciferin chemicals from fireflies to detect the presence of adenosine triphosphate, an energy storage compound in the cells of living organisms. This method was then used to identify life in other planets prompting his employment at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration where he was responsible for research on extraterrestrial life and effects of extraterrestrial surrounding on living organisms.

Some of his patents include discovering a method of detecting and counting bacteria in 1976. In 1977, he found the application of luciferase assay for adenosine triphosphate to antimicrobial drug susceptibility. His work in the field of science did not stop at that point as in 1979; he worked on the determination of antimicrobial susceptibilities on infected urines without isolation. This method was used for quick resolution of susceptibilities of unidentified bacteria contained in fluid samples. On May 24, 1983, he devised a plan for the rapid and quantitative determination of bacteria in the water. In 19995, he worked on a method for determining surface coverage by materials exhibiting different fluorescent properties.

Another important discovery made by Chappelle was his work on a method for determining the health of forest vegetation. Here, the amount of fluorescence over a forest was measured, and the amount of photosynthesis monitored in a selected area. To sum up his excellent career, he published more than 35 peer-reviewed scientific publications and about fifty conference papers. Chappelle also co-authored and edited various publications.

Despite the challenges he faced in the early stages of his life, racial segregation in school and only being a son to a farmer, Emmett Chappelle, an African American, worked so hard in school and during his career to leave a remarkable mark in the history of American Sciences.

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