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Dorothy Plack Smith

by Susan J. Ainsworth
August 18, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 33

Dorothy Plack Smith, 88, a retired editor of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, died of congestive heart disease on July 13 at her home in Washington, D.C.

Born in Hagerstown, Md., Smith earned a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, in chemistry and microbiology at Goucher College in Towson, Md., in 1947 and an M.A. in chemistry at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., in 1949.

She began her career working as an analytical chemist in the laboratories of U.S. Rubber until 1958, when she became a chemistry project leader at the Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Md.

Smith taught chemistry from 1961 until 1966 at the now-defunct Western High School in Washington, D.C., and was chair of its science department from 1964 until 1966.

She served as a National Institutes of Health predoctoral fellow from 1966 until 1968. She then moved to Georgetown University, where she worked as a research associate in inorganic chemistry before earning a Ph.D. in chemistry there in 1975.

From 1972 until 1980, she also worked as manager of ACS’s News Service. Most notably, she played a significant role in publicizing new information about chlorofluorocarbons’ destruction of the ozone layer.

In 1980, she became an associate editor of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, remaining with the publication until her retirement in 1996.

Smith was an emerita member of ACS, joining in 1961.

Her husband, Harold, died in 1968. She is survived by her daughter, Barbara Smith-Demo.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.


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