Moddie Daniel Taylor (1912-1976)

Moddie Daniel Taylor is one of the few African American scientists who were commissioned to work on the Manhattan Project, the top-secret creation of an atomic bomb during World War II. Taylor was born in Alabama, but moved to St. Louis in his younger years and graduated from Sumner High School in 1931. Taylor attended Lincoln University in Missouri, where he graduated valedictorian as a chemistry major in 1935. Immediately following his graduation, Taylor worked as a professor and teaching staff until 1941. At the same time, he earned a Masters in Science degree from the University of Chicago in 1939 and his PhD in 1943. 


In 1945, Taylor started working on the Manhattan Project as the University of Chicago as an associate chemist. He analyzed rare earth metals and used them for industrial production. His efforts in the project earned him a Certificate of Merit from the Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson a year later. After finishing his work on the project, Taylor became a renowned professor at Howard University, later becoming the Chair of the Chemistry Department. He published his first textbook, First Principles of Chemistry, which soon became the main text used for chemistry in college education. Taylor was a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the New York Academy of Sciences, Sigma Xi, and Beta Kappa Chi. He was also a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists and Washington Academy for the Advancement of Science. Taylor retired from Howard University in 1976 and later died that year from cancer at age 64.