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Betty W. Harris

(1940 - )



“As a nation we must continue to provide a comprehensive and competitive education in science and engineering for our young people. We must always encourage and support them, for without research and development, progress in technology and information transfer will not occur.” Dr. Betty Harris Photo courtesy of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Betty Harris is the seventh child of Legertha Thompson Wright and Henry Hudson (Jake) Wright. She was born July 29, 1940 and has eleven siblings. Their childhood was spent on a very productive farm located along the banks of the Ouachita River in Louisiana.

They enjoyed the blessing and hardships of farm life and the cooperation and support of a large, extended family and a church-based community. Their nearby grandparents were Virginia Smith Wright and Henry Hudson Wright. Their grandparents in Arkansas were Aaron and Luemonia Cannon Thompson.

Ms. Harris received her bachelor of science and master of science degrees from Southern University and Atlanta University, respectively. Both are Historically Black Colleges. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M.

Dr. Harris’s career spans more than four decades. For the first ten years, she was a college assistant professor of chemistry and mathematics. She then spent more than two decades at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), where she worked in high explosives research and development (R&D) and environmental management and restoration.

During a leave of absence from LANL, Dr. Harris was the chief of chemical technology for Solar Turbine Inc., where she managed the technical laboratories and investigated cold-end corrosion of super alloys, which was caused by sulfuric acid and soot in gas turbine engines.

For the last eleven years of Dr. Harris’s career, she worked at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Classification as a certified document reviewer. This office retained information that may compromise U.S. homeland security, and released information that could be released.

Dr. Harris is a 50-year member of the American Chemical Society.

Links to Additional Information

Dr. Betty Harris: Famous Black Inventors

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