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Elizabeth Dyer

  • Born: May 10, 1906, Haverill, Massachusetts
  • Died: November 25, 1995, Hockessin, Delaware

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0060
Interview Date: October 13, 1986
Location: Hockessin, Delaware
Interviewer: Herman Skolnik
No. of pages: 36
Minutes: 60

  Abstract of Interview

Elizabeth Dyer recounts her childhood in Haverill, Massachusetts and entering Mount Holyoke College at the age of seventeen. There she was influenced by two outstanding teachers, Louisa Stevenson and Dorothy Hahn, which led first to a major in chemistry, and then to the M. A. degree. It was at Mount Holyoke that Dyer had her first experience of teaching chemistry before she moved to Yale for Ph.D. studies and later post-doctoral work, researching heterocyclic chemistry under the guidance of Treat B. Johnson. In 1933 Elizabeth Dyer accepted an instructorship at the Women's College, University of Delaware, where she was to remain for the rest of her career. She discusses her early years there before the merger of the Women's and Men's Colleges and recounts her sabbatical year working with George Barger at the University of Edinburgh. In 1943 she commenced her research studies in polymer chemistry, largely at the suggestion of the Armstrong Cork Company. She describes her linoleate copolymerization work and her later polyurethane studies. As a consequence of the new research initiative, Dyer set up courses in polymer chemistry, some of the earliest after the polymer program at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. In the final section of the interview Elizabeth Dyer reflects on her priorities as an academic and briefly discusses her retirement hobbies.


1927 B.A., Chemistry, Mount Holyoke College
1929 M.A., Chemistry, Mount Holyoke College
1931 Ph.D., Chemistry, Yale University
1931 Postdoctoral Fellowship Yale University

  Professional Experience

University of Delaware

1933 - 1940 Instructor

University of Delaware

1940 - 1947 Assistant Professor

University of Delaware

1947 - 1951 Associate Professor

University of Delaware

1951 - 1971 Professor

University of Delaware

1971 Professor Emeritus


1958 Excellence in Teaching Award, Manufacturing Chemists' Association
1969 Excellence in Teaching Award, University of Delaware
1971 Elizabeth Dyer Teaching Award established for graduate assistants in chemistry, University of Delaware

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood and Pre-College Education 1

Growing up in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in a settled family situation. Interests largely non-scientific.

Undergraduate Education and Master's Studies 9

Attends Mount Holyoke College and early comes under the influence of chemistry teachers there. Majors in chemistry and accepts a teaching assistantship to complete M.A. degree.

Ph.D. and Postdoctorial Studies 12

Studies at Yale University under Treat B. Johnson. Discusses other faculty and colleagues at Yale.

Academic Career at the University of Delaware 13

Search for an academic post; early days at the Women's College, University of Delaware and merging with the Men's College. Sabbatical year in Scotland with George Barger. Start of independent research career and move into polymer chemistry. Initiation of courses in polymer chemistry at University of Delaware.

Retirement Activities, Personal Reflections on Career 29

Ornithology. Interaction with graduate students. Teaching Awards.

Notes 32

Index 34

  About the Interviewer

Herman Skolnik

Herman Skolnik received a B.S. in chemical engineering from The Pennsylvania State University, and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. He joined Hercules, Inc., as a research chemist in 1942, and served as a divisional research manager from 1952 until his retirement in 1979. He was the founding editor of The Journal of Chemical Documentation, and has published over 200 papers and four books, including A Century of Chemistry, the centennial history of the American Chemical Society.

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