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Goddard Scientist Inducted Into National Inventors Hall of Fame
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center retired research scientist, Emmett Chappelle, has been named one of 16 inductees for 2007 into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. The honorees will be officially inducted during ceremonies on May 4-5, at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio.

The Hall of Fame is the nation’s preeminent center for the recognition of men and women who have worked to change the world. The recognition honors these prestigious innovators who have changed society and improve the way we live.

Photo of Dr. Emmette Chapelle Image right: Photo of Dr. Emmett Chapelle. Credit: NASA
Chappelle, joining three other living inductees at the official announcement, was chosen for his work with Lyophilized Reaction Mixtures. His work revealed that a specific combination of chemicals caused all living organisms to emit light. Through his discovery, Chappelle facilitated important findings within the fields of biology and chemistry. In the mid-60s Chappelle work assisted in the development of instruments used to scrape Marian soil during NASA’s Viking probe mission.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Chappelle received his bachelor’s of science degree in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkley in 1950. After school he briefly worked as an instructor in biochemistry at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN., but left to study biochemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle. With a master’s degree, Chappelle returned to California where he served as a research associate and scientist for the Research Institute of Advanced Studies at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. He began working with NASA in 1966 in support of NASA’s manned space flight initiatives. Chappelle later relocated to Goddard Space Center to work as a remote sensing scientist.

Photo of Dr. Emmette Chapelle with Dr. Frank Cepollina and Judy Bruner Image left: Dr. Frank Cepollina, Mr. Chappelle and Judy Bruner of the Goddard Space Flight Center pose after the official announcement on Capitol Hill, Feb. 8.

“I really enjoyed my time at Goddard,” Chappelle stated just after the official inductees list was announced. “The people made it a great place for me to do my research and I really appreciated that NASA recognized the importance of my work.” When asked what he missed the most about working at Goddard he simply responded, “The people.”

During his 34-year Goddard career, Chappelle’s innovative research led to 14 United States patents, as well as external recognition as one of the top one hundred African Americans, scientists and engineers of the twentieth century, which has been documented in the Museum of Black Innovations & Inventions. He received many awards for his work including the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award. Chappelle produced more than 35 peer-reviewed scientific or technical publications, nearly 50 conference papers, and co-authored or edited numerous publications.

Image right: Living members of the 2007 inductees include Emmett Chappelle, John Franz, Paul Baran, and Robert Metcalfe. Credit: NASA

The non-profit National Inventors Hall of Fame was founded in 1973 to honor the men and women who have promoted the progress of science, technology, and the economy. The foundation started with a simple goal of making national heroes of the men and women whose life’s work has truly changed the world.

The formal announcement ceremony was attended by past inductees, members of Capitol Hill and well wishers in the Longworth House Office Building on Feb. 8. “The United States can continue to compete in the future world market with our great ideas,” said Congressman Ralph Regula of Ohio’s 16th District to the inductees. “It is people like you that help us reach that goal."

Chappelle retired from Goddard in January 2001 and lives with his daughter and son-in-law in Baltimore.

Dewayne Washington
Goddard Space Flight Center