The first African American to take part in a major new-element identification programme, after he helped discover elements 104, rutherfordium, and 105, dubnium.
James Andrew Harris grew up in Texas and California. In 1953, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Huston-Tillotson College, Texas. After graduating he found it extremely difficult to find work because of racial discrimination. In 1955, James Andrew Harris finally found a job as a radiochemist at Tracer lab in California, where he stayed for 5 years. In the 1960s and 1970s, whilst working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where he carried out the work, he is most known for. James Andrew Harris despite not having a PhD, lead the Heavy Isotopes Production Group as a part of the Nuclear Chemistry Division. His main role was to prepare targets for the discovery of heavy elements. While working with James Andrew Harris, famous nuclear chemist Albert Ghiorso once said that James Andrew Harris’s targets, for the discovery of heavy elements, was “the best ever made for heavy element research.” Due to James Andrew Harris’s skills and scientific knowledge, his team discovered two elements: element 104, rutherfordium, and 105, dubnium. James Andrew Harris is the first African American who took part in a major new-element identification programme.
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