As you enjoy your Halloween candy next week, check out the wrappers to see if beet sugar is listed. If so, you have this week’s WiSE Wednesday honoree, Rachel Holloway Lloyd (1839-1900), to thank for your treat. Rachel lays claim to many firsts: she was the first American woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry, the first woman to publish in the American Chemical Journal, and the first woman to be regularly admitted to the American Chemical Society.
Her research on the sugar content of beets and the requirements for beet growth led to the introduction of beet sugar as a sweetening agent and the subsequent success of Nebraska’s beet industry into the present day. Despite facing discrimination because of her gender, Rachel had a successful career as chemistry professor at the University of Nebraska and was beloved by her students. Rachel’s career trajectory shows that it is never too late to enter the field of science; she didn’t receive her Ph.D. until the age of 48. So, this Halloween, we at WiSE urge you to use the energy from all that sugar to investigate the scientific questions that intrigue you!