To celebrate Black History Month, we’ll be focusing on African American inventors, scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.

Valerie Thomas is an American astronomer who not only worked for NASA, but invented an illusion transmitter that is used for surgery, in television screens, and was adopted by NASA scientists.  Some of her other contributions to the scientific world include managing Landsat (the first satellite to send images back to Earth), development of computer programs to research Halley’s Comet, and mentoring youth interested in scientific fields.

Thomas was born May, 1943 in the state of Maryland.  Despite not being encouraged to learn about science, she had a keen interest in the subject.  After receiving her high school diploma, she enrolled at Morgan State University and became one of two women in the physics field.  She completed her degree at Morgan and began working as a data analyst at NASA.

During her time at NASA, Thomas was able to invent the illusion transmitter.  It produces an optical illusion using two concave mirrors.  By utilizing concave mirrors, any image reflected would appear to be in front of the device and look more realistic than a flat mirror reflection. This early 3D technology is being used every day in televisions and hospitals. She made the decision to retire from NASA in 1995 after more than thirty years with the organization. Thomas spreads her love of science and technology by working with young African American girls in her community.  She mentors with the National Technical Association and Science Mathematics Aerospace Research and Technology, Inc.

Valerie Thomas is an inspiration to girls around the world to take a more serious interest in technology fields.  She is an award-winning inventor that not only gave her all to science but also gives back to her community. If you would like to learn more about Valerie Thomas CLICK HERE.

About Author
Danielle Rein, Community Learning Specialist
Danielle is a Community Learning Specialist at Do Space who was born and raised in the Omaha area. In her free time, she can usually be found playing video games or reading.