Dr. Elmer Imes and Spectroscopy

Dr. Elmer Imes and Spectroscopy

Dr. Elmer Imes and Spectroscopy_Picture.jpg

Portrait of Elmer Imes working in a laboratory

Portrait of Elmer Imes working in a laboratory

Fisk University, Nashville, courtesy AIP Emilio Segre Visual Archives

In this lesson plan, students will learn about Dr. Elmer Imes, the second African-American to receive a Ph.D. in physics in 1918 and a physics professor at Fisk University.  Students will learn about Imes’ experimental work on spectroscopy and how it was a turning point in modern applied physics.  Afterward, students will learn about the principles of spectroscopy. This lesson explores Imes’ personal history and scientific work in spectroscopy, and provides a hands-on activity demonstrating refraction and spectra. Note: this lesson works very well alongside the AIP Teaching Guide “Physicist Activist: Dr. Elmer Imes and the Civil Rights Case of Juliette Derricotte,” which explores a historical tragedy that Elmer Imes became involved in.