Dr. Allan A. Needell earned a BA in physics from Cornell University and a PhD in the history of science from Yale University.
From 1978-81 he served as associate historian at the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics, where he had responsibility for a federally funded project to investigate and recommend ways of identifying and preserving documents relating to the U.S. Department of Energy's research laboratories.
Dr. Needell joined the Museum in 1981. He is responsible for its Apollo artifacts collection, and has recently completed a multiyear effort to preserve the only Saturn V launch vehicle made of flight-qualified components.
From 1999 to 2002, Dr. Needell served as chairman of the Space History Division. During that period he published Science, Cold War and the American State: Lloyd V Berkner and the Balance of Professional Ideals (Routledge, 2000), and wrote articles on the history of physics, the origins of U.S. national laboratories, and government-science relations.
In addition, he has edited a collection of essays, The First 25 Years in Space: A Symposium (Smithsonian Institution, 1983; paperback, 1989) and is currently working on a book devoted the political and philosophical beliefs of the leaders of the Apollo program.