Lloyd Augustus Hall
Lloyd Augustus Hall’s contribution to science largely involves food preservation. Lloyd’s interest in food chemistry, a new area of chemistry, started while working at Boher Chemical Laboratory. Before his inventions, table salt (sodium chloride) was used as the major food preservative especially in preserving meat (Wilson and Jane, 34). However, table salt was not effective enough, as meat could only be preserved in a short period using this technique. Following various experiments, Lloyd came up with “flash-drying” technique as an alternative to table salt preservation. The technique involved a combination of sodium nitrate crystals and nitrite and sodium chloride, which suppresses nitrogen which is responsible for food spoiling. This technique was widely used within the meat industry. Later on, he improved this technique further through the introduction of tartrate and glycerine which made the salt solution into a Powderly form (Carey, 23).
Furthermore, he discovered that food’s oils and fats could easily spoil through their reaction with oxygen. He created antioxidants which could deter this reaction, hence preserving such foods. Besides, he also ventured into food sterilization and sterilization of substances connected with food. Following a series of research, he discovered that food spices contain various germs in for of yeasts, molds, and bacteria (Oakes, 18). He further discovered that such germs could be killed through the use of ethylene oxide gas, a technique which later adopted in medicines, drugs, and medical supplies. For instance, he designed a method of using ethylenoxide gas in a vacuum compartment for food decontamination, which later used in sterilization of cosmetics and prescription drugs. Today, his sterilization technique is utilized in various fields not only in the United States, but also other parts of the world (Carey, 63).
In addition to his discoveries and inventions in the food industries, Lloyd also contributed in establishing organizations that promoted scientific activities in one way or the other. For instance, in 1939, together with other individuals, he engineered the foundation of the Institute of Food Technologists (Wilson and Jane, 49). It became the first professional organization that took care of the interests of the chemists involved in the industry of processing and preserving food. In addition, he served in various science-oriented committees and boards in which he offered his expertise with regard to food chemistry (Spangenburg and Diane, 69). Some of the boards he was part of include: American Association of Cereal Chemists, American Public Health Association, American Oil Chemists’ Society, and American Chemical Society.
Lloyd Augustus Hall is one of the few American scientists whose work rubberstamped the inclusion of their names in the books of the greatest American scientists in history. Lloyd was born and raised in Illinois, and his family background was an interesting one. His grandfather is well known for establishing Quinn Chapel A.M.E Church, which he later become its first pastor. His grandmother arrived in Illinois at the age of sixteen through the “Underground Railroad”. His parents were high school graduates. It is argued that Lloyd’s success in the field of science is attributed to his family background, which was characterized by strict teachings and respect that helped him in overcoming adversity (Carey, 29).
Lloyd’s journey in the field of science started at East Aide High School, where he first took his chemistry class in 1908; a time when science was not prevalent among high school students. In a class of about 125, he was among the top 10 graduates; and was among the only five black students managed to secure a chance and graduate from the school (Wilson and Jane, 74). He got a scholarship in Northwestern University, where he majored and graduated with a BS in chemistry. He later proceeded to the University of Chicago to pursue a graduate program in the same field. However, he encountered a number of challenges during his lifetime, especially at the early stages of his school life. He was born a time when segregation and racism was a common phenomenon in the United States. Being black, getting opportunities like his white counterparts was not easy (Carey, 51). In fact, this is the reason why they were only five black students in his high school the entire four years he spent there. Were it not for his exceptional performance in school, getting an opportunity in a school dominated by the whites, leave alone getting a scholarship to further his studies in a university could be a big challenge.
Lloyd had to overcome various obstacles in his career before eventually becoming successful. However, as mentioned above, discrimination was a major issue not only in school, but also at the place of work. For instance, as a fresh graduate he endured discrimination when the Western Electric Company hired him through telephone. He had to deal with numerous denials from various organizations, which could not tolerate hiring any black man before he secured a junior chemist position at the Chicago Department of Health Laboratories (Spangenburg and Diane, 89). After one year he had been promoted to the position of senior chemist, before moving on to John Morrell Co. as a chief chemist two years later. The promotions came as a result of his exemplary work, which gave him an upper hand over his white colleagues. He also worked in various laboratories throughout the United States. In fact, he became the first black man in the history of America to hold most of his positions in the various organizations he worked with. For instance, he became Griffith Laboratories, Inc.’s Chief Chemist and technical director in 1925. He eventually retired in 1959 at Chemical Products Corporation, in Chicago (Wilson and Jane, 81).
Finally, from the above discussion it is evident that Lloyd made significant contributions in the growth and development of science. He majored in food chemistry, an area of science that not many people new before. Through his inventions, he promoted the growth of the food industry as well as other areas related to the food industry. However, as mentioned above, Lloyd was born a time when racism was at its peak in the United States. Therefore, he had to endure discrimination not only in school, but also while searching job opportunities as a fresh graduate, despite his high qualifications. Lloyd eventually became successful in his profession, becoming the first black man to hold high positions in various laboratories throughout the United States; in addition to being the first black man to have made various inventions in the food industry. Today, Lloyd is remembered for his expertise and research in a number of areas including: bakery materials; meat product proteins; protein hydrosalates; fats, oils and yeast food; chemotherapeutic products; food sterilization, enzymes, and colloids; as well as biological and food chemistry.
Carey, Charles W. American Scientists. New York: Facts on File, 2006. Internet resource.
Oakes, Elizabeth H. Encyclopedia of World Scientists. New York: Facts on File, 2007. Internet resource.
Spangenburg, Ray, and Diane Moser. African Americans in Science, Math, and Invention. New York, NY: Facts On File, 2003. Internet resource.
Wilson, Donald, and Jane Wilson. The Pride of African American History: Inventors, Scientists, Physicians, Engineers : Featuring Many Outstanding African Americans and More Than 1,000 African American Inventions Verified by U.s. Patent Numbers. Birmingham, Mich: DCW Pub. Co, 2003. Print.