James Ellis LuValle, Athlete and Scientist

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DYK on this day in #MoorStory365 that James Ellis LuValle was born in San Antonio on November 10, 1912. After graduating from Los Angeles Polytechnic High School, LuValle begin his college studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and earned his B.A. in chemistry in 1936 — the same year he competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

LuValle, alongside Olympic legend Jesse Owens in 1936, an African-American athlete and later scientist won a bronze medal in Berlin. LuValle earned his MA degree in 1937 from UCLA, where he focused on photochemistry, where light is used to initiate and study chemical reactions. Four years later, he would earn a PhD in physical chemistry (with a minor in mathematics).

DURING THE COURSE of his career, LuValle’s intellectual contributions included publishing over 30 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, and he held eight patents. In 1987, LuValle received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award from California Institute of Technology and the Professional Achievement Award from the UCLA, where the student commons was named “Lu Valle Commonsin his honor in March of 1985.

Read LuValle’s Oral History


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