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ACS Award For Encouraging Women Into Careers In The Chemical Sciences

Sponsored by the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation

by Jeff Huber
January 17, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 3

Credit: Steve Schmid
Credit: Steve Schmid

It would be impossible to count the exact number of women chemists who have been impacted by Mamie W. Moy. That’s because, ever since she first began teaching chemistry at the University of Houston (UH) in 1954, Moy has made it a point not only to mentor women chemists herself but also to encourage others to do the same. “Her accomplishments have touched thousands of girls and women of all ages,” marvels Amber S. Hinkle, a former chair of the ACS Women Chemists Committee (WCC).

The need to promote support among female students was readily apparent to Moy upon earning an M.S. in chemistry from UH in 1952. “She first began her educational career under the Administration of President Eisenhower, a period when few women were in science and even fewer ever thought they could be,” notes Karl M. Kadish, a distinguished professor of chemistry at UH.

Recognizing a need for greater support, Moy founded the Neptunium chapter of Iota Sigma Pi, a national honors organization for women chemists, at UH in 1966. She has served as faculty adviser to the organization since its founding and remains active in the organization. In 2006, for instance, Moy helped Iota Sigma Pi work with WCC to coordinate a program for women chemists at the ACS Southwest Regional Meeting.

In addition to her collegiate work, Moy plays an integral role in helping K–12 students cultivate their interest in science. In 1990, she founded the SMART (Science & Mathematics Applied Resources for Teachers) Center to train precollege math and science teachers. Moy continues to serve as center director and teacher. She has also worked since 1990 with high school science teachers as director of her regional Associated Chemistry Teachers of Texas organization.

As a workshop presenter for programs such as “Expanding Your Horizons in Science & Mathematics”—which encourages young women to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers—Moy directly engages local youth. She also mentors local high school girls through a program sponsored by Texas Executive Women.

“It’s so wonderful to be around the young people,” Moy beams. “I just love to teach these kids, and when they’re receptive it’s so gratifying.”

“Mamie Moy does more than any other individual I know of to promote education in the sciences and mathematics in the city and state,” says Joe W. Hightower, an emeritus professor of chemical engineering at Rice University. “She knows, and is known and respected by, all of the local K–12 chemistry teachers.”

And at the age of 81, Moy, the longest-tenured professor at UH, shows no signs of slowing down. “She could easily retire,” Kadish notes, “but she refuses to do so because there is still too much work to be done for each new entering class of graduate students, more than half of whom are now female.” A class of graduate chemistry students that is predominantly female? It’s tough not to wonder how much of that is the result of Moy and the countless women inspired by her example.

Moy will present the award address before the Women Chemists Committee.



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