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Valerie L. Thomas


Valerie L. Thomas is an American inventor and data scientist who made significant contributions to the development of digital imagery technology and image processing systems, who's work ultimately led to the invention of 3D movies. Despite facing adversity in her early life and then pursuing a career rarely followed by women, she was able to overcome these obstacles and excel, ultimately leading to numerous breakthroughs in her field. 


Valerie Thomas was born on February 8th, 1943, in Baltimore, Maryland. From an early age, Valerie was committed to excelling in school despite the challenges she faced and she graduated from high school in 1961 with honors. After graduating high school, Thomas attended Morgan State University where she majored in Physics - making her one of only two women studying this subject at the time. Despite the difficulties presented by a male-dominated field such as Physics, Valerie excelled in her mathematics and science courses, ultimately graduating with a degree in Physics with highest honors in 1964. 



Following her graduation from Morgan State University, Valerie continued to pursue her career as a physicist by accepting a position at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. During this period, she was responsible for developing digital media formats for image processing systems used within NASA's Landsat program. In 1978 she received The Exceptional Achievement Medal from NASA in recognition for her work on the Landsat Project. Following this success Valerie continued to invest much effort into researching new advancements within image processing technology, eventually leading to one of her most notable achievements - inventing an illusion transmitter which later became patented under her name 1980. 



Throughout her career in physics and data science, Valerie has achieved numerous inventions which have impacted not only NASA but also our day-to-day lives across various industries around the world. Her invention of an illusion transmitter earned her a patent in 1980, while in more recent history Valerie worked on developing mathematical algorithms which allow multiple satellite images to be processed simultaneously. These innovations have played a major role in improving efficiency when it comes to Earth mapping projects such as Google Earth.  



From efficiently enabling us to read ground terrain features from satellite images using digital media formats to helping us use multiple satellite images together, the impact that Valerie has had on our world cannot be understated. However, Valerie’s arguably even larger impact is inspiring other young black women who are trying make their way through male-dominated fields such as Physics.  There is no doubt that without Valerie’s deep dedication we wouldn’t have been able to experience some of these amazing benefits today. 



In conclusion, as Black History Month comes to a close let us take some time to appreciate all that Dr. Thomas has done for not only our scientific community but also our world. Let’s remember all those who persevered through the eras of segregation and discrimination in order to achieve and enable great technological leaps forward – like Dr.  Valerie Thomas – so that we can follow their example towards a better future filled with discovery, innovation, health, safety, and productivity.