Portrait of Sylvia Stoesser (1901-1991), the first female Ph.D. chemist employed at the Dow Chemical Company.
Sylvia Stoesser (nee Goergen) was born on July 18, 1901 in Buffalo, New York and earned her B.S. in chemistry from the University of Buffalo in 1923 and her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1928. She initially worked in the sugar laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards before joining the Dow Chemical Company in 1929 following her marriage to Dr. Wesley C. Stoesser, a fellow chemist and Dow research scientist. Dr. Sylvia Stoesser worked in Dow's Physical Research Laboratory from 1929 to 1940 and contributed to the development of a range of products throughout the 1930's, including saran, polystyrene plastics, Styrofoam, and modern dry cleaning solvents. In 1940, Dr. Stoesser concluded her active career as a research chemist following the birth of her daughter, though she continued to serve as a consultant to Dow and co-edited "Styrene, Its Polymers, Copolymers, and Derivatives" (1952).
In addition to her work with Dow, Sylvia Stoesser was also the first woman elected to the Midland, Michigan school board, serving from 1950 to 1958, and volunteered at both the Midland hospital and the King's Daughters Home for the Elderly. She died in Midland on March 17, 1991.
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“Portrait of Sylvia Stoesser (1901-1991),” 1928. Dow Chemical Company Historical Image Collection, Box 17, Folder Personnel--Stoesser, Sylvia. Science History Institute. Philadelphia. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/p5547r96p.
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