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 with a specialization in Apollo artifacts.
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.
Dr. Needell retired in 2018 and is now a curator emeritus.