“You’ve got to take the opportunities as they appear.”
Mary Lowe Good didn’t envision the head-spinning list of accomplishments that awaited her when setting off for college. She planned to become a home-economics teacher, a well-paying job for women at the time. But one day in a required chemistry course Good learned about Marie Curie and was captivated by her scientific achievements. She took a chance and switched her major to chemistry. The rest of her fascinating career, she says, has been a series of chances that she was just curious and gutsy enough to take.
As a chemistry professor, Good pioneered an experimental technique called Mössbauer spectroscopy, which uses gamma rays to figure out the molecular structure of complicated compounds containing metal ions. With this technology she could learn in an afternoon what previously would have taken an entire year of study.
Although she was happy in her lab, when Universal Oil Products wooed her, she agreed to become the company’s director of research and work on innovative technologies. Finally, she took her talents to the national stage, advising on science and technology under presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.