American mathematician and aerospace engineer Mary Jackson went down in history as the first African-American woman to work as a NASA engineer. Initially a math teacher, she later joined NACA under Dorothy Vaughan and contributed to countless American space programs at a time when racial segregation was the norm.
American physician-geneticist Francis Collins is known for his discovery of the genes related with several diseases and for leading the Human Genome Project while serving as director of NHGRI. Recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science, Collins wrote the New York Times bestseller The Language of God and presently serves as director of the NIH.
American astronomer, naval officer, oceanographer and author Matthew Fontaine Maury, who first served the United States Navy and then the Confederacy States Navy, made significant contributions in oceanography. His book Physical Geography of the Sea is counted among the first comprehensive books on oceanography. Navies and merchant marines across the world adopted his uniform system of recording oceanographic data.
A practicing physician, Henry Draper later taught at the New York University medical school. However, he later devoted all his time to his passion, astronomy, photographing celestial bodies and following in his doctor and amateur astronomer father’s footsteps. He was the first to photograph a stellar spectrum and a nebula.
Zoologist Theophilus Painter made some groundbreaking studies on chromosomes, with special focus on the X and Y chromosomes and chromosomes of the salivary glands of the Drosophila fly. The Yale alumnus was associated with the University of Texas, where he eventually became the president.