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Hattie Carwell

Physicist Hattie Carwell was born on July 17, 1948 in Brooklyn, New York. Carwell grew up in a nurturing black community in Ashland, Virginia, which encouraged her interest in science. After graduating from high school in 1966, she enrolled at Bennett College for Women. Carwell earned her B.S. degree in chemistry from Bennett College in 1971. She went on to earn her M.S. degree in health physics from Rutgers University in 1971.

Throughout her career, Carwell has worked nationally and internationally for the U.S. Department of Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency as a health physicist and nuclear safeguards group leader. From 1980 to 1985, she went on leave to Vienna, Austria where she served as a nuclear safeguards inspector and group leader at the International Atomic Energy Agency. In 1990, she became a program manager for high energy and nuclear programs with the DOE San Francisco Operations Office. She then became a senior facility operations engineer at the Berkeley Site Office in 1992. In 1994, Carwell was promoted to operations lead at the Berkeley Site Office, a position which she held until 2006. She became a senior physical scientist before retiring in 2008.

Carwell has written numerous research articles and two books including, Blacks in Science: Astrophysicist to Zoologist. Carwell is a Board Member of the Northern California Council of Black Professional Engineers, an organization of which she is a past President. She is treasurer for the National Council of Black Engineers and Scientists, co-founder and chair of the Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology, and Director of the Museum of African American Technology (MAAT) Science Village. MAAT Science Village archives information on the achievements of Africa American in science and engineering.

Carwell is the recipient of numerous performance awards from the Department of Energy, and is recognized as a community leader. She is a distinguished alumna of Bennett College and included in the Black College Hall of Fame. Her achievements are annotated in biographical

Accession Number

A2012.239

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/5/2012

Last Name

Carwell

Maker Category
Middle Name

Virginia

Schools

Bennett College for Women

Rutgers University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Hattie

Birth City, State, Country

Brooklyn

HM ID

CAR25

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

I Am Not Fattening Frogs For Snakes.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/17/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Oakland

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pie (Apple)

Short Description

Environmental scientist Hattie Carwell (1948 - ) was a health physicist for the United States Atomic Energy Commission and the International Atomic Agency.

Employment

United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)

Energy Research Administration

United States Department of Energy

International Atomic Energy Agency

Department of Energy Headquarters

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Hattie Carwell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell talks about her maternal great grandmother, Edmonia Tunstall

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about her family's educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about her mother's life in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Hattie Carwell describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes her father's background and military service

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell talks about her parents and siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell talks about her uncle Patrick Tunstall and her adoptive grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell describes the sights, smells, and sounds of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Hattie Carwell describes her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Hattie Carwell talks about Shiloh Baptist Church

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes her mischievous nature as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell describes her aunt and uncle as parents

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell describes her experience at John Manuel Gandy High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about civil rights and the Richmond Improvement Association

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about her interest in news and current events

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Hattie Carwell talks about her high school interests and opportunities

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Hattie Carwell discusses her high school experiences with science

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes her selection of Bennett College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell describes her experience at Bennett College

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell describes her interest in California

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell discusses her work in the field of radiation science

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about the Atomic Energy Commission and exposure to radiation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about human radiation experiments

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes the effects of exposure to radiation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell describe measures people take to shield themselves from radiation

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell talks about her internship at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell describes her thesis

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell describes working at Thomas Jefferson University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about her return to Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes her work with the Atomic Energy Commission

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell talks about her transfer to California

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell talks about her experience at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell describes her work in Vienna, Austria

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about her travels while working for the International Atomic Energy Agency

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell talks about her work as a group leader for the International Atomic Energy Agency

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell talks about her second year at the International Atomic Energy Agency

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell describes her return to the United States

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell describes her work in Rocky Flats, Colorado (part 1)

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell describes her work in Rocky Flats, Colorado (part 2)

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about her work with the High Energy and Nuclear Programs

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell talks about her appointment at Lawrence-Berkeley

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell reflects on her time at the Department of Energy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell talks about her book, 'Blacks in Science'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell talks about Dr. Warren Henry (part 1)

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about Dr. Warren Henry (part 2)

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about Ernest Just

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Hattie Carwell talks about Glenn Seaborg

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Hattie Carwell discusses the Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Hattie Carwell talks about the Museum for African American Technology Science Village

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes exhibits in the Museum for African American Technology Science Village

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell talks about her publication exploring green technology

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell shares her hopes and concerns for the African American communiry

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell talks about her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about her personal life

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell tells how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Hattie Carwell describes her photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$9

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
Hattie Carwell talks about her travels while working for the International Atomic Energy Agency
Hattie Carwell describes exhibits in the Museum for African American Technology Science Village
Transcript
Now, did you ever go to Russia or--$$Went, I went to Russia as a tourist. And the Russians we interacted with, Russians disappeared on the job that I had because the majority of us believed the Russians were spies. And they were just doing our job to see the different nuclear facilities. And they thought the Japanese were out to steal industrial secrets. And me, you know, I was harmless. It was only one of me, you know, I was the only black woman and for a while, the only woman. And so, you know, what harm could I do? I was a novelty. And so I was representing the United States. I had a Laissez-passer from the UN [United Nations]. Don't touch her. Don't mess with her. Even if she's in trouble, don't mess with her. And it was, you know, if you messed with me, it's an international incident. So I got lost, you know, trying to go places and I never worried about being lost until I was supposed to be where I wasn't, you know, getting directions in a foreign language that you don't completely understand. It's bad enough getting directions in a language that you do understand. People, you know, so concerned that you might get lost, they're going in the opposite direction, and they turn around, follow me, taking you to make sure you get to the point, going to little towns in Italy. The Italians will talk to you, I don't care what language you speak. And once again, I'm going to these tiny little towns, 'cause, you know, and small-town people will get in your business. And they would wonder why is she coming here once a month, staying three days and then going back? What is she doing? And this Thai--guy from Thailand and I used to go to this town an hour from Amsterdam, Almelo, next door to Hengelo. Hengelo, they have beer. And we stayed in this bread and breakfast place. And so (laughter) Mr. Gemung (ph.) Hung (ph.) said, I'll bet you they wanna know why the two of them come here (laughter), why the hell they come here to this little town (laughter), 'cause you know, they didn't know what we were doing. We would go to the university or out to a power plant. I went to, we--it was a new enrichment plant, uranium enrichment plant, experimental, that we would go to. And, you know, I, since I was a novelty, you know, there's dead time. You're counting samples and machine, and you're just sitting there waiting. So there's a lot of just small talk. And, you know, this was interesting. The plant was in the Netherlands, and the Germans ran the plant. And I forget his name, but the director of the plan would come, and at lunchtime, he'd, you know, just hang out a little bit. And he had a habit, when you asked him a question he would say, "in princeive" (ph.), you know, in principle. And when he would say that, I would always get this big smile on my face. And he didn't know why I would always smile. So he said, what's, what's, you know, what's the problem? I said, well, you know, I'm smiling because most times when people say something "in principle", whatever they're saying is not really true, that it's close to being true, but it's not really true or you really don't know if it's true. And for the nature of our work, if he's telling us, well, it's kinda like this, but it's not, and so I would just smile. And he, it was such an ingrained habit, he couldn't break it. So every time he'd ready to say something, he'd find himself, saying "in princeive". And then he would look at me and laugh.$$Okay--$$So--$Okay, so, well, tell us, what are the exhibits in the museum, and--$$Well, first of all, I have to tell you right now, we do not have a physical location. We are in search of purchasing a building. And I wish the market had changed when we had money, but the money we had at that time was not sufficient to purchase. But now that the market is down, we're desperately in pursuit. So most all of our activities are at events or in someone else's venue. Right now, we participate in U.S. Science and Engineering Festival in D.C. [Washington, D.C.]. There were 150,000 people that came to that. And you were saying people that, not shop, but it's nice to know, kind of thing. I got a photo of the African American who got the very first patent of, you know, not a drawing, but a photo of him and was able to include that in the, in the exhibit. And since we're just more like a picture show, you gotta keep people's interests. So we do it like a game, and we'll ask, "Can you tell me who did so and so?" It's an open-book test 'cause all the answers are right there. And more than likely people don't know. They don't have a clue. But to engage them, we will blow bubbles in the directions, so they start looking. One, they read more, and they end up reading everything as opposed to something that kind of looks interesting. So, we do that. We do Juneteenth, things like that. But when we have our facility, we have groups of kids come in. My thing is solar. I don't know if you noticed my solar cells on my roof.$$I did, I did, on the roof, right, right.$$I've had my solar cells ten years, and I wanted solar cells when I didn't have a roof. And energy and the variety of what DOE [Department of Energy] research is, is what kept me there that long. And when we go to South Africa in two weeks, I'm gonna do a solar paper there.

Emmett Chappelle

Environmental scientist and biochemist[?] Emmett W. Chappelle was born on October 24, 1925 in Phoenix, Arizona to Viola White Chappelle and Isom Chappelle. His family grew cotton and tended cows on a small farm at the edge of town. Chappelle was drafted into the U.S. Army, right after graduating from the Phoenix Union Colored High School in 1942. He was assigned to the Army Specialized Training Program, where he was able to take some engineering courses. Chappelle was later reassigned to the all-Black 92nd Infantry Division and served in Italy. After returning to the U.S., Chappelle went on to earn his A.A. degree from Phoenix College. With the help provided by the GI Bill of Rights, Chappelle was able to receive his B.S. degree in biology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1950.

Chappelle went on to serve as an instructor at the Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee from 1950 to 1953, where he was also able to conduct his own research. Chappelle’s work was noticed by the scientific community, and he accepted an offer to study at the University of Washington, where he received his M.S. degree in biology in 1954. Chappelle continued his graduate studies at Stanford University, though he did not complete a Ph.D. degree. In 1958 Chappelle joined the Research Institute for Advanced Studies in Baltimore, where his research aided in the creation of a safe oxygen supply for astronauts. He went on to work for Hazelton Laboratories in 1963. In 1966, Chappelle joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center. Chappelle’s research has focused in the area of luminescence, which is light without heat. He has been involved in a number of projects, including the Viking space craft. Chappelle used chemicals from fireflies as well as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to develop a method of detecting life on Mars. He used this research in bioluminescence, light produced by living organisms, to detect bacteria in water, as well as in improving environmental management.

Chappelle retired from NASA in 2001. He has received fourteen U.S. patents, produced more than thirty-five peer-reviewed scientific or technical publications, nearly fifty conference papers, and co-authored or edited numerous publications. Chappelle has been honored as one of the top 100 African American scientist and engineers of the 20th century. He has received an Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal from NASA for his work. Chappelle was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007. He lives with his daughter and son-in-law in Baltimore.

Emmett W. Chappelle was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 30, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.234

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/30/2012

Last Name

Chappelle

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widowed

Middle Name

W.

Schools

Wilson Ward Elementary

George Washington Carver High School

University of California, Berkeley

University of Washington

Stanford University

Phoenix College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Emmett

Birth City, State, Country

Phoenix

HM ID

CHA10

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Arizona

Favorite Vacation Destination

Assateague, Maryland

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

10/24/1925

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Environmental scientist and biochemist Emmett Chappelle (1925 - ) was honored as one of the top 100 African American scientist and engineers of the 20th century for the many impacts of his research in bioluminescence, light produced by living organisms.

Employment

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center

Hazelton Laboratories

RIAS Martin M.

Johns Hopkins University

United States Army

Meharry Medical College

Stanford University

Research Institute for Advanced Studies

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Emmett Chappelle slates the interview and shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his mother's growing up in Montgomery, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Emmett Chappelle talks about how his father moved the family to Arizona

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his parents and the similarities between him and his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his siblings and shares his childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Emmett Chappelle remembers some of the sights, sounds, and smells from his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his childhood schools

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Emmett Chappelle talks about how his interest in science developed

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Emmett Chappelle talks about living in the desert as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Emmett Chappelle talks about the radio and newspapers of his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his high school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his high school teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his speech impediment

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his experience in the U.S. Army during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his experience in Italy during World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his experience at Phoenix College

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his wife and why he changed his major to biochemistry

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Emmett Chappelle talks about teaching at Meharry Medical College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his experience at the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Emmett Chappelle discusses his research at Stanford University and the University of Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his research at the Research Institute for Advanced Studies in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his experience as an astrochemist at Hazelton Laboratories and his extraterrestrial research

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Emmett Chappelle discusses his discoveries in bioluminescence

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his research at the Goddard Space Flight Center and Johns Hopkins University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Emmett Chappelle discusses his research in fluorescents as well as his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Emmett Chappelle discusses his hopes for the African American community and talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Emmett Chappelle talks about his students and his military awards

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Emmett Chappelle tells the story of how he learned how to swim

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Emmett Chappelle describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Emmett Chappelle talks about his experience as an astrochemist at Hazelton Laboratories and his extraterrestrial research
Emmett Chappelle discusses his discoveries in bioluminescence
Transcript
Okay, now, from '63' [1963] to 1966, you worked as a biochemist for Hazelton Laboratories in Falls Church [Virginia]. What project were you working on there?$$I was developing a system for determining if there was life on other planets.$$Okay. Now, so you were there for a fairly long time working on this, right?$$Um-hum.$$Okay, from what I have here, they would call you an exobiologist, right?$$(No audible response).$$Someone who is engaged in the search for extraterrestrial life and the effects of extraterrestrial surroundings on living organisms.$$Um-hum.$$Okay, so at this point, you become an astrochemist, right. So how do--$$(Laughter).$$--you like that title (laughter)?$$I never considered myself as an astrochemist, even though that was the title they put on me. I was always, considered myself a biochemist.$$Okay, now, did you, if you told somebody you were looking for, you were trying to determine if there was extraterrestrial life, what kind of conversations would you have with people? I mean would they think it was like something that's impossible or what did people think then?$$Well, they wouldn't know what to think. I'm still not sure whether or not there's life on other planets.$$Do you think it's likely?$$I think it's likely. It's not life as we know it here on earth. But I think it's likely that there's, there are organisms up there that reproduce.$$And so you're saying that there are definitely organisms in space that we produce here?$$What?$$You're saying there're organisms in space right now that we produce here in, on earth?$$Well, I'm saying that there's most likely life out there that will reproduce in their own environment, which is (unclear) a criterion of life, the ability to reproduce.$$Okay, now, the target of your design, the instruments that you were designing was the Viking I Mission [the first successful NASA spacecraft to Mars] which occurred in 1975, right?$$That was supposed to be the vehicle on which my experiment would be flown, Viking.$$All right, so was it? I mean did you have experiments--$$It never flew.$$It never flew. Okay. All right. What happened? Why didn't it fly?$$That's a good question. They decided that the experiment which I designed was too specific, that it would call for life, to be too close to life here on earth, and that most likely, it wouldn't work.$$Or it wouldn't detect something that might be close to life on earth, but not quite--$$Um-hum.$$Okay. Okay, so, but Viking did, Viking flew, but your instrumentation didn't go?$$Right.$Okay, all right. All right, now, also, now, working on this project, you became interested in bioluminescence, right?$$(No audible response).$$And tell us how that took place. What is bioluminescence, and what happened during the project to get you interested in it?$$You've seen a fire fly, haven't you?$$Yes, sir.$$Well, that's bioluminescence. You can, you can take those fire flies and grind them up and extract the enzyme, mix it with Adenosine Triphosphate and get light.$$Now, this I kind of a code method of producing light, right? I mean using something that's not, you know, on fire or--$$Um-hum.$$--something without a spark?$$You could call it that.$$Yeah, so is there any heat produced from this light?$$No measurable heat.$$Okay, so are you the first then--I read that you were the first person to discover the chemical composition of bioluminescence, right?$$Yes.$$Okay, all right, so, and that's why you're in the Inventors Hall of Fame, is that true, because of this?$$Yes.$$Okay, and so, how was, how long did it take you to, you know, come up with the chemical composition of bioluminescence and--$$It took years.$$So, when, I mean how many years, I mean approximately how many years did it take to do that?$$What?$$Approximately, how many years did it take you to discover this?$$Approximately three.$$Three years, okay. All right, that's not a very long time. But, so did you--now, as a biochemist, I didn't ask you this before, but I guess this is a good time--now is as good a time as any. What's the day-to-day activities of a biochemist working on the projects that you were working on? I mean how soon do you get to the laboratory, and how many breaks do you get, and--$$(Laughter).$$(Laughter) Is it a short work week or do you have time to play cards or do you, I mean what is the--or do you have to work real hard or what? What is it like?$$Oh, a biochemist is a person who investigates the chemistry of living organisms.$$Okay, well, I was asking about your routine. What do you do?$$(Laughter) What do you mean by my routine?$$Well, what you do, you know, every day after you get up and get dressed and ready to go to work, what do you do at work?$$Well, you go into your laboratory and carry out experiments, hopefully, designed to answer questions as to, as to what are the chemical reactions involved in carrying out a certain biological reaction.$$Okay, typically, would you have a number of assistants or an assistant, or did you have to do everything by yourself or what?$$Usually, you have an assistant.$$Okay, so with this kind of investigation on the properties of bioluminescence, did you utilize electronic measurement devices as well as--$$Yes. You have to use electronic devices to measure the light.$$Okay, can you give us any more detail or--(laughter) are we out of luck (laughter)?$$(Laughter). (Unclear)$$Okay.$$You start out with the fire fly which you have to obtain by way. Either you catch it yourself or you pay the little kids to run around catching them for you. Then you bring them into the lab. You chop off their tails, grind them up and get a solution out of these ground-up tails which contains the enzyme sulforates (ph.) (unclear) and the cofactor Luciferin. You add Adenosine Triphosphate to that mixture and you get light. Adenosine Triphosphate is usually called ATP, which is found in all living organisms. And we were able to use that reaction to, to measure the bacteria in infected urine samples and some of the reaction mixture to the urine sample and measure the amount of light we get.$$Okay, so, well, we're gonna pause here, and then we'll pick up again.$$Okay.$$'Cause I understand like what, yeah.