FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 26, 2014
Rachel Lloyd, pioneering woman in chemistry, to be named a National Historic Chemical Landmark
LINCOLN, Neb., Sept. 26, 2014 — America’s first woman to earn a doctoral degree in chemistry, Rachel Lloyd, Ph.D., will be recognized as a pioneer in her field with a National Historic Chemical Landmark designation from the American Chemical Society (ACS). The ceremony will take place on Oct. 1 at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL), where Lloyd taught from 1887 until 1894.
Lloyd (1839–1900) aspired to become a professor of chemistry in the 1880s, at a time when women were largely excluded from careers in the sciences. She resolved to earn a degree and enrolled at the University of Zurich, in Switzerland, which was one of the few prestigious universities that accepted female graduate candidates in her field. In 1887, she became the first American woman (and the second woman in the world) to receive a doctoral degree in chemistry. That same year, she accepted positions at UNL and the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station, becoming one of the first women to teach and conduct research at a co-educational university.
“Lloyd was a pioneer who broke new ground in our science,” said Marinda Li Wu, Ph.D., immediate past president of ACS. “As the first woman from the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry, she left a far-ranging legacy for the thousands of women, myself included, who would earn their doctoral degrees, conduct research and mentor future students. Her story is an inspiration to all of those who overcome challenges and barriers in the pursuit of their dreams.”
Lloyd’s research in Nebraska centered on chemical analyses of sugar beets, an emerging crop in the U.S. in the late 1800s. The contributions of Lloyd and other UNL scientists led to the introduction of a commercial sugar industry in Nebraska in 1890. Today, the UNL Extension reports that Nebraska ranks sixth in the nation for sugar beet production, with more than $130 million in local economic impact.
A ceremony honoring Lloyd is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 1. The Rachel Lloyd Memorial Conference on Women in Science will follow on Thursday, Oct. 2. The events are sponsored by the UNL Department of Chemistry and the ACS Nebraska Local Section.
ACS established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize seminal events in the history of chemistry and to increase awareness of the contributions of chemistry to the well-being of society. Other subjects recognized through this program have included the development of synthetic plastics, the discovery of penicillin, and the work of notable figures such as Rachel Carson, Joseph Priestley and George Washington Carver. This will be the first Landmark recognized in the state of Nebraska. For more information about this subject and the Landmarks program, visit www.acs.org/landmarks.
The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.