Phenomenal Women in Their Element as Nationally Acclaimed Chemists in Examiner

October 10, 2012 - Philadelphia, PA

by Florentia Spires

Rarely do you hear that an employee is working in the field primarily to make a discovery that will spark improvement in life in some special way. These phenomenal women that you will hear from have done it all. They have intentionally begun their journey at a very young age, vowing to be spectacular with everything that they encounter in life. As a result, they each reaped the benefits of making contributions to society that make them scientific historians and “SHE-ROS” in their own right.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation also known as CHF was founded in 1982 in Philadelphia. CHF is running online trailers called “The Catalyst Series”, which shares the story of women chemists. This national organization does not require membership to access its programs. Initially it was a center for chemistry that offered scholarly programs and public programs. Over the decades, they have evolved to offer more options to not only capture the interest of adults but youth as well.

CHF has a library and museum that offers resources for developing curricula to highlight some of the brightest scientists of the present and past. They also offer an attractive website, magazines, and publicize numerous ongoing events.

The third week of October is National Chemistry Week. On October 1, CHF launched a program where one story per week will highlight a chemist for one year on the website. This project thus far has been dedicated to young girls and women as they feature extraordinary women who many identify with and come to view as role models. The genesis of the program came from a mind-set of how to speak to women, connect with them and most importantly INSPIRE them in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The female chemists and scientists featured are ordinary women of the present and the past that have a permanent footprint on American society due to the benefits offered by their hard work, motivation and dedication to the STEM field of expertise. The CHF aims to draw in children so that they can firstly imagine themselves, their relatives or even their neighbors in these important roles in the STEM fields.

The women featured come from an array of demographics, racial and ethnic groups yet they fulfill the same promise of contributing to society through chemistry, science and engineering.

Kitty Hach-Darrow, a pilot and entrepreneur, shares her story of water testing and filtration successes as she exercised her natural entrepreneurial talent she discovered to help pay fees to attend college. She exudes so much love of life, joy and laughter that one cannot help but embrace her as one of their own family members.

Mary Lowe Good, an influential advisor to many U.S. government leaders, was recently named as one of five STEM Leaders of the year in America this past July. As the only female of the five STEM leaders, it is well deserved due to her major contributions to academia and industry.

Uma Chowdhry, originally from Mumbai, was influenced by her very own courage to dream the impossible, which translated to strength at a very young age. At a very young age, she had her vision on becoming internationally reputable in her “NOT YET” chosen field of expertise at that time.

Mildred Cohn, a small in stature Jewish woman with a huge presence who graduated high school at the age of fourteen, asked for everything she wished. As a result of her tenacity, she was almost always granted her wish, allowing her to advance her career at an accelerated pace.

Nancy Chang, a very passionate and traditional Taiwanese woman by way of China, was instrumental in the discovery for detecting HIV. She was also instrumental in developing drugs that ease the symptoms of allergies.

Paula Hammond, a confident and jubilant African American, knew how to navigate and persevere professionally to meet her personal goals. She favorably revisits the model of her Alma Mater MIT, Men et Menus which translates to Mind at Hands, which continues to inspire her to break through the glass ceiling as a chemical engineer.

Stephanie Kwolek, an amazing woman who is the only chemist who did not pursue a PhD despite having that option. She worked for DuPont her entire career as a chemical engineer. Ms. Kwolek made a huge contribution to society in creating a very strong fiber that is the material used to manufacture Kevlar. Kevlar is the material that the bulletproof vests and military hats are made from, thus no longer being made of steel. She is a "National Inventors Hall of Famer".

Though ordinary in many ways yet extraordinary women professionally will move you in every which way as they share their educational perseverance and tenacity to overcome the odds to become a notable citizen in society. They learned about themselves while young as it related to their happiness and motivations in life through elements and used this information to hone their skills and become phenomenal leading women in chemistry. Every man, woman and child will be able to identify and connect with at least one of these women if not each one of them in how they dared to dream and pursue their interest to be the best!

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