Bettye Washington Greene’s legacy lives on through lecture series

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Bettye Washington Greene, Ph.D. '65, was a pioneering research chemist at Dow Chemical Company. Image courtesy Science History Institute, Dow Chemical.

To honor the legacy of trailblazing research chemist Bettye Washington Greene, Ph.D. ’65, the Wayne State University Department of Chemistry will launch the Bettye Washington Greene Endowed Lecture Series in 2022. A generous $50,000 seed gift from Professor of Chemistry Christine Chow established the series, followed by gifts from the Dow Chemical Company Foundation, from the James R. and Anita Horne Jenkins Family Foundation, and from James and Anita Jenkins personally.

Helping students envision the wonders of science careers

The Bettye Washington Greene Endowed Lecture Series will expose students from diverse backgrounds to experts who have taken a variety of career paths in research-based fields. First-generation college students and students of color aren’t necessarily aware of the routes available in science and research-based fields of study. These students benefit immensely from meeting mentors in academia, industry and other job sectors who can help them envision opportunities they might not have considered otherwise.

When Chow discovered an article about Bettye Washington Greene written by Department of Chemistry alumna Sibrina Collins ’94, she was inspired to create a lectureship focused on the accomplishments of successful women in chemistry. There was no question in Chow’s mind that Greene was the perfect namesake for such a lectureship. She established the Bettye Washington Greene Endowed Lecture Series to provide a critical resource that will be available for Wayne State students forever.

Honoring a brilliant research chemist

Greene (1935-1995) broke barriers culturally and scientifically when she earned her Ph.D. from Wayne State in 1965, becoming one of a handful of African American women with doctoral degrees in chemistry. Greene went on to a brilliant career at Dow Chemical Company, where she published studies in peer-reviewed journals that established her expertise in latex materials and polymers.

Greene was promoted to senior research chemist at Dow in 1970. Three years later, she joined the Designed Polymers Research Division. In 1975, Greene was promoted to senior research specialist. She worked at Dow for 25 years, retiring in 1990. Throughout her career, Greene established many patents and received many accolades. Her research is still cited in leading journals, and her work to improve the properties of latex was pivotal to many industries.

Support the Bettye Washington Greene Lecture Series

If you would like to join Professor Chow and others in supporting the lecture series, there are several ways to make your gift. Donate online at giving.wayne.edu/donate/washingtongreene. Or, send a check to Wayne State University, P.O. Box 674602, Detroit, MI 48267-4602, with “Bettye Washington Greene Endowed Lecture Series” in the memo line.

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