Emily Cooley was a well‐respected medical technologist and morphologist with a remarkable skill set. She was highly regarded both professionally and personally. The “Emily Cooley Lectureship and Award” was established to honor her in particular and medical technologists in general. This article first reviews how a medical laboratory technologist was inspired to become a clinical researcher, then goes on to describe research that led to the discovery of cytokines as the cause of febrile nonhemolytic transfusion and the use of a pragmatic randomized controlled trial design to address evidence of harm when stored red blood cells were transfused. Important lessons for performing quality, meaningful research are highlighted.