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Sara Jane Rhoads* -- 2009 Outstanding Former Faculty
Department of Chemistry
Sara Jane Rhoads was among the first women in the United States to reach the rank of full professor of chemistry. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Chicago in 1941, Rhoads worked in research and development at the Lindsay Light and Chemistry Company in Chicago. In 1949, she earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Columbia, and she became a member of the UW faculty in 1948, where she initiated the undergraduate research program in the Department of Chemistry.
Rhoads maintained high expectations for her students and made every effort to educate them well. Richard Waggener, a former student, comments, “She was one of the most dedicated and toughest teachers I ever had, and the enthusiasm she had for organic chemistry made being in her class a very exciting experience. I had the utmost respect for her.”
Rhoads was widely recognized for her research. In 1982, she received the Garvan Medal from the American Chemical Society for her contributions to organic chemistry. She was awarded an AAUW Fellowship (1947-1948) and a National Science Foundation Senior Post Doctoral Fellowship (1956-1957). She received the MCA Teaching Award (1964), THE George Duke Humphrey Award (1974), the OAK Award (1975), and was named AWS Woman of the Year in 1968.
Rhoads remained a faculty member until here retirement in 1984. In 1992, the Department of Chemistry established an organic chemistry lecture series in honor of Rhoads and her friend and colleague Rebecca Raulins. Rhoads died in 1993.
*In loving memory.