William Jacob Knox was an American chemist.
Knox was born in 1904 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He attended Harvard University as an undergraduate, and went on to receive an M.S. and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 1943, Knox went to work on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University. He worked on the separation of uranium isotopes by using corrosive uranium hexafluoride gas. He would eventually be named head of the Corrosion Section. Knox was of only a few African-American scientists to work on the project, and was the only supervisor. His younger brother, Lawrence Knox, also worked on the Manhattan Project.
After the war, Knox worked for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, NY. During this time, he was active in the Rochester civil rights movement. He was an active member of the NAACP, was a founding member of the Rochester Urban League, and helped established scholarships for minority students. He also taught briefly at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University before retiring in 1973.
Knox died on July 9, 1995, in Newton, MA.