Betty Harris (scientist)

Dr. Betty Harris
Born (1940-07-29)29 July 1940
Monroe, Louisiana
Nationality United States
Fields Chemistry
Alma mater Southern University
Atlanta University
University of New Mexico
Known for chemistry of explosives

Dr. Betty Harris is an American chemist. She known for her work on the chemistry of explosives completed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She patented a spot test for detecting 1,3,5-triamino-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene (TATB) in the field.[1]


Dr. Harris was born in Ouachita Parish, Monroe, Louisiana, and raised on a farm by her parents Henry Hudson "Jake" and Legertha Evelyn Thompson Wright.[2] She attended Union Central High School, enrolling at Southern University at the age of 16. She received her B.S. in science at the age of 19 and subsequently attended Atlanta University, receiving her M.S. degree.[3] She taught as an assistant professor of chemistry and mathematics[4] at Mississippi Valley State University, Southern University and Colorado College.[1]

After her teaching career, she moved to do research at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she worked in the areas of hazardous waste treatment and environmental remediation as well as explosives chemistry. Areas of focus included explosives detection, safing liquids, synthesis and characterization of insensitive high explosives and sensitivity of weathered high explosives.[5] In addition to her research, she has worked in outreach to young people, including working with the Girl Scouts in developing a badge based on chemistry.

She has received the New Mexico Governor's Trailblazer Award.[6] She is recognized as a distinguished African American Scientist by the National Academy of Sciences.[2] She is a 50 year member of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Harris currently lives in Maryland and has three children: Selita Harris Lucas, Jeffrey Harris and Alloyd A. Harris, II.[1]



  1. 1 2 3 The HistoryMakers ScienceMaker Toolkit (PDF). Retrieved 2014-07-12.
  2. 1 2 "Betty W. Harris". External link in |website= (help);
  3. Osborne, Hannah. "Black History Month 2014 Five Black Chemists who Changed the World Honoured". International Business Times. Retrieved 2014-07-12.
  4. Woodlief, Mayona (2013-04-29). "Biography of Dr. Betty Harris". Retrieved 2014-07-12. External link in |website= (help)
  5. "Featured Inventors: Dr. Betty Harris". International Black Inventions Museum. Retrieved 2014-07-12. External link in |website= (help)
  6. "Dr. Betty Harris". External link in |website= (help);

External links

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