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Mary L. Good

Mary L. Good

Courtesy of Mary L. Good

  • Born: June 20, 1931, Grapevine, Texas

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0171
Interview Date: June 2, 1998
Location: Little Rock, Arkansas
Interviewer: James G. Traynham
No. of pages: 60

  Abstract of Interview

Mary Good begins the interview with a discussion of her family history, her childhood, and her early education. Her family moved from Texas to Arkansas in 1942, when her father was offered a principalship in Kirby. Good had very little science education in high school, and attended Arkansas State Teacher's College to become a home economics teacher. However, her interest in science was piqued by a freshman chemistry course, and Good soon became a chemistry and physics double-major. Her chemistry professor encouraged her to go on to graduate school, and she accepted a fellowship at the University of Arkansas to study radiochemistry with Raymond Edwards. She received her Ph.D. in 1955, and accepted a position at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her early work included iodine and sulfur chemistry and managing the radiochemistry laboratory. She moved to the brand-new New Orleans campus in 1958, where her research moved away from radiochemistry and into spectroscopy. In 1974, Good became a Boyd Professor at LSU. She soon returned to the Baton Rouge campus to help establish a materials science program. In 1980, Good left academia to join United Oil Products as vice president and director of research. Soon thereafter, corporate mergers led to the creation of AlliedSignal. Good discusses her extensive involvement in the American Chemical Society, including her time as chairman of the board and later as president. In 1980, Good was appointed to the National Science Board by President Carter, and was reappointed by President Reagan. In 1991, President Bush appointed her to the President's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology. Good discusses the support she received from AlliedSignal during this time. In 1993, Good left AlliedSignal to become the Under Secretary for Technology in the Department of Commerce. When she left the Department of Commerce four years later, Good joined Venture Capital Investors, which seeks to stimulate the creation of technology-intensive companies. Good concludes the interview with a discussion of her awards and honors, her family, and professional women in general.


1950 B.S., Chemistry, University of Central Arkansas
1953 M.S., Chemistry, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
1955 Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

  Professional Experience

Louisiana State University

1954 - 1958 Instructor and Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Baton Rouge

Louisiana State University

1958 - 1963 Associate Professor of Chemistry, New Orleans

Louisiana State University

1963 - 1974 Professor of Chemistry, New Orleans

Louisiana State University

1974 - 1978 Boyd Professor of Chemistry, New Orleans

Louisiana State University

1978 - 1980 Boyd Professor of Materials Science, Division of Engineering Research, Baton Rouge

United Oil Products

1980 - 1985 Vice President-Director of Research, Corporate Research Center

AlliedSignal Research and Technology Laboratory

1985 - 1986 President-Director of Research, Signal Research Center, Inc.

AlliedSignal Research and Technology Laboratory

1986 - 1988 President-Engineered Materials Research

AlliedSignal Research and Technology Laboratory

1988 - 1993 Senior Vice President, Technology

U.S. Department of Commerce

1993 - 1997 Under Secretary, Technology Administration

Venture Capital Investors, LLC

1997 Managing Member

University of Arkansas, Little Rock

1997 Donaghey University Professor


1969 Agnes Faye Morgan Research Award
1973 Distinguished Alumnae Citation, University of Arkansas
1973 Garvan Medal, American Chemical Society
1974 American Institute of Chemists Honor Scroll, Louisiana Chapter
1975 Herty Medal, American Chemical Society, Georgia Section
1979 Florida Award, American Chemical Society, Florida Section
1982 Scientist of the Year, Industrial Research and Development Magazine
1983 Gold Medal, American Institute of Chemists
1986 Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1987 Elected Member, National Academy of Engineering
1988 Delmer S. Fahrney Medal, Franklin Institute
1990 New Jersey Women of Achievement Award, Douglass College at Rutgers University
1991 Charles Lathrop Parsons Award, American Chemical Society
1991 Industrial Research Institute Medalist Award
1991 ASM International Distinguished Life Membership Award, The Materials Information Society
1991 American Association of State Colleges and Universities Distinguished Alumnus Award
1992 American Association for the Advancement of Science Award
1992 Distinguished Public Service Award, National Science Foundation
1992 Albert Fox Demers Medal Award, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
1993 Ralph Coats Roe Medal, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
1994 Fellow, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences
1995 Honorary Fellowship, The Royal Society of Chemistry
1996 Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management, Dow Chemical Company
1996 UCLA Glenn T. Seaborg Medal
1996 Federation of Materials Societies National Materials Advancement Award
1997 Priestley Medal, American Chemical Society
1998 Othmer Gold Medal, Chemical Heritage Foundation
1999 Philip Abelson Award, American Association for the Advancement of Science

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Family Background and Early Education 1

Grandparents. Moving from Texas to Arkansas. Influence of parents. Attending Willisville High School.

College Education and Graduate School 3

Decision to attend Arkansas State Teacher's College. Intent to teach home economics. Becoming a chemistry/physics double-major. Influence of chemistry professor. Campus activities. Fellowship at University of Arkansas. Interest in radiochemistry. Marie Curie as a role model. Working with Raymond Edwards. Research for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). Radioisotopes. Marriage and family.

Louisiana State University (LSU) 8

Decision to join the faculty at LSU in Baton Rouge. Colleagues. Learning to teach. AEC grants. Iodine chemistry and sulfur chemistry with Sean McGlynn. Colleagues at LSU. Managing the radiochemistry laboratory. Moving to the New Orleans campus. Interest in spectroscopy. Becoming Boyd Professor. Friction between LSU campuses. Returning to Baton Rouge campus. Materials science program. Relationship between chemistry and engineering.

United Oil Products (UOP) and AlliedSignal 23

Recruitment as vice president and director for research at UOP. Modernizing computer equipment. Corporate merger. Becoming AlliedSignal. Joint ventures.

American Chemical Society (ACS) 30

Involvement in local sections. Meetings and Expositions Committee. Election to Board of Directors. Running for president. Publications Committee. Chairman of the Board. Influence on Chemical Abstracts Service.

Government Roles 34

Appointment to National Science Board by President Carter. Impressions of the National Science Foundation. Joining President's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology. Problems of technology policy. Support of AlliedSignal. Becoming Under Secretary for Technology in Department of Commerce. Government support for R&D.

Retirement 44

Working for Venture Capital Investors. Consulting. Awards and honors. Family.

Notes 53

Index 54

  About the Interviewer

James G. Traynham

James G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.

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