Kentucky Tourism
Back to Famous Kentuckians

Scientists

These Kentucky Inventors, Scientists & Physicians changed the world of science forever

A land of invention and discovery, Kentucky has served as home for many of the world’s great scientists, inventors and physicians. These Kentucky inventors and scientists have made great strides in our understanding of the world and brought about some incredible advancements in our daily lives, from Garrett A. Morgan, who came up with the ideas behind gas masks and traffic lights, to Phillip Allen Sharp who won a Nobel Prize for advancing cancer research. Read up on these Kentucky inventors and their brilliant minds – perhaps you’ll discover what made them tick! Don’t forget to meet the other famous people from Kentucky.

Ephraim McDowell* (November 11, 1771-1830) – Performed first successful surgical removal of an ovarian tumor, 1809. He settled in Danville, and began his practice as a surgeon. Born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, buried in Danville.

Garrett A. Morgan (March 4, 1877-1963) – African American inventor who originated a respiratory protective hood similar to modern gas masks. Invented first automatic, tri-color traffic signal, 1923. Born in Paris, Kentucky, died in Cleveland, Ohio.

Thomas Hunt Morgan (September 15, 1866-1945) – Nobel Prize winner in medicine for genetic research, 1933. American geneticist and embryologist. Born in Lexington, died in Pasadena, California.

Matthew Bacon Sellers* (1869-1932) – Among first to experiment with gliding and power flight, aeronautical research, born in Baltimore, Maryland, died in New York. The first son of two native Kentuckians.

Phillip Allen Sharp (June 6, 1944- ) – Nobel Prize winner for the discovery of split genes and for advancing research on cancer and hereditary diseases, 1993. Born in Falmouth.

Nathan B. Stubblefield (November 22, 1860-1928) – Successfully demonstrated wireless voice transmission radio, 1892. Born in Murray, died in Almo, Kentucky.

John T. Thompson (December 31, 1860-1940) - United States Army officer, inventor of the Thompson Machine Gun (tommy gun). Born in Newport, died in Great Neck, New York.

* Denotes not born in Kentucky