Good role models can greatly influence the path of a person’s career. While role models don’t always receive awards, recent announcements of award recipients describe a number of professionals in chemistry and chemical engineering who have been singled out for their exceptional accomplishments. These women are indeed role models, and a source of inspiration to others in the chemical process industries (CPI).
In November, President Obama honored the newest recipients of the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation — the highest honors bestowed by the U.S. Government for achievements in science, technology and innovation. One of the eight recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation was Edith Flanigen, a chemist with UOP, a Honeywell company, who is now retired but remains an active consultant for the company.
Flanigen began her career at Union Carbide in 1952, a time when there were few women in chemistry. She worked on the purification and extraction of silicone polymers and the manufacture of molecular sieves, and she invented a process to synthetically manufacture gem-quality emeralds for use in early laser technology. Over the course of her 42-year career, Flanigen invented more than 200 synthetic materials and received 109 patents. In 1991, she was the first woman to be awarded the Perkin Medal, an annual award from the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) that recognizes outstanding work in applied chemistry. The first Perkin Medal was awarded in 1906.
The Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) Suzanne Jenniches Upward Mobility Award, endowed by Northrop Grumman, recognizes a woman who has risen to a significant position in her organization, and has created a nurturing environment for other women in their workplaces. In November, SWE announced the latest recipient of this award: Janeen Judah, general manager of Chevron Corp.’s Southern African Strategic Business Unit. Judah, a Houston-area resident who holds degrees in petroleum engineering and law, received the award for her multi-disciplinary career achievements, as well as for inspiring other women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Jacqueline Barton, the Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor of Chemistry and chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, will receive the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Priestley Medal in March and the American Institute of Chemists (AIC) Gold Medal in May of this year. Barton pioneered the application of transition-metal complexes to probe recognition and reactions of DNA. Her work has been useful in laying a foundation for the design of chemotherapeutics. She has trained more than 100 graduate and postdoctoral students.
We are grateful to these women and the many others who, by example, provide inspiration to others in the field. ■
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