STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is a field that yields many different topics for research. But the gender divide in STEM is still sorely felt by women/feminine-presenting people. Too many times discrimination in the lab and field has set back scientific endeavors for no other reason than social nuance. While Heychemistry understands that this occurs in all fields and that gender discrimination is not limited to just women or femme persons, we want to take the time to recognize the women who have contributed greatly to the field of chemistry.
1903: Nobel prize in physics for the discovery of the radioactive elements polonium and radium with husband and partner Pierre Curie.
1911: Nobel prize in chemistry for the isolation of radium as a pure metal and studies into its radioactive behavior.
Irene Joliot-Curie (France)-1935: One of the first persons to artificially product a radioactive substance by shooting aluminum atoms with alpha-particles to convert them to a radioactive phosphorus isotope with her husband and partner Frederic Joliot.
Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (Britain) 1964: For her work using X-ray diffraction techniques and analyses to determine the structure of penicillin and vitamin B-12.
Barbara Askins (American b. 1939): Invented a solution to enhance photographs using radioactive material while working at NASA. “On July 18, 1978, Askins received U.S. patent No. 4,101,780 for a “Method of Obtaining Intensified Image from Developed Photographic
Films and Plates.” She was sole inventor on the project.” She was named the National Inventor of the Year in 1979. Picture: x
Uma Chowdhry (Indian-American b. 1947): Uma Chowdhry was born in Mumbai, India, in 1947. She earned her bachelors of science from the Indian Institute of Science, Mumbai University before moving to the United States. Learn more at her Profile page→
Marie Maynard Daly (American 1921-2003): Daly was the first black woman to earn her PhD in chemistry from Columbia University in 1947 with the thesis: “A Study of the Products Formed By the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch”. Daly became an assistant professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University where she worked until she retired in 1986. Her discoveries concerned cholesterol, arteries, smoking, and heart attacks. Learn more at her Profile page →
Paula Hammond (American b. 1963): Professor Paula Hammond received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)in 1984, and her M.S. from Georgia Tech in 1988 and earned her Ph.D. in 1993 from MIT. She is the head of the chemical engineering department at MIT, and a professor of engineering.
Hammond is a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the MIT Energy Initiative, and a founding member of the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology. She was named the new head of the Department of Chemical Engineering (ChemE)- she is the first woman and person of color to fill this seat.
Hammond also served as the Executive Officer (Associate Chair) of the Chemical Engineering Department (2008-2011). She has published over 250 scientific papers and holds 20 patents since her time at MIT.
Darshan Ranganathan (Indian 1941-2001): Raganathan was born in 1941 in Delhi, India. She was raised there and earned her PhD in organic chemistry from Delhi University in 1967. She then went on to do post doc work in the United States under D.H.R. Barton made possible by her earning the Senior Research Scholarship of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851. Ranganathan returned to India in 1969 and started to do independent research at the Indian Institute of Technology where her husband also worked. Through a series of independent grants she was able to make incredible discoveries about protein folding mechanisms. She however, was never offered a faculty position at IIT:Kanpur. In 1993 she accepted a post at the Regional Research Laboratory, Trivandrum. In 1998, she became the director of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology in Hyderabad.
During her life, Ranganathan published 11 papers in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and 6 in The Journal of Organic Chemistry.
Raganathan was a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. She also won the A.V. Rama Rao Foundation Award, the Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Visiting Fellowship, Third World Academy of Sciences Award in Chemistry, and the Sukh Dev Endowment Lectureship.
Raganathan died in 2001 at the age of 60 from breast cancer. (x)
Sibyl Martha Rock (American 1909-1981): Integral team member with the CEC (Consolidated Engineering Corporation) for her work with mass spectrometers and computing. She developed an analog computer to analyze spectrophotometer results with Clifford Berry, and went on to contribute to CEC’s Datatron.
Born in Butte, Montana 1909, Rock graduated from UCLA in 1931 with a degree in mathematics. During her time at the CEC, she helped develop and sell the mass spectrophotometer as well as the early digital computers needed to help analyze it. She often shifted frequently between engineering and sales.
In 1953 she was the first female sales engineer for ElectroData Corporation with the title “acting manager, application service”. During her time at the CEC, Rock made huge contributions to mass spectrophotometry analysis as well as writing the leading computer manual in 1946.
The manual, Computing Manual: Analysis of Gas and Liquid Mixtures by Means of the Mass Spectrometer (1946), helped create a standard for the developing field. Rock worked closely with Ernst Selmer, another engineer, to create the code for the Datatron- and later would encourage customers to create coding problems for the it. Through her life, Rock advocated for girls to become engineers and mathematicians. She died on November 17th, 1981.
Glaci Zancan- (Brazil 1935-2007): For her work with biochemistry and metabolism in the later 20th century. Zancan participated in the preparation of the “National Plan of Postgrade Studies 2005-2010” coordinated by CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel est. 1951).
Zancan established her presence in chemistry in Curitiba, and was professor of the Federal University of Paraná. She chaired the Brazilian Society of Biochemistry, vice-president of the SBPC from 1995- 1999 and later president from 1999 to 2003 .In her last years of life, she was member of the CAPES higher board and of the Education Council of the State of Paraná.
Photo: (x) Women performing chemistry in the lab at the New York Pratt Institute