Professor Emerita Honored for Encouraging Women to Choose Careers in Chemical Sciences

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) Professor Emerita Sandra Greer knows firsthand how hard it is for women to forge careers in engineering and applied sciences. She has spent her own championing equality for women in academia and the lab, working to increase the number of women in fields in which they were and are underrepresented, and creating a more positive environment for all female students at colleges and universities.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has recognized Greer’s achievements by honoring her with its national Award for Encouraging Women Into Careers in the Chemical Sciences. The announcement was made in the January 6 issue of Chemical and Engineering News.

Early in her career, Greer was one of the founders of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Standards Committee for Women, which among other achievements lobbied for and eventually saw the establishment of on-site daycare. When she joined the University of Maryland’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1978, she was its first tenure-track female professor and later its first female chair. When she accepted a joint appointment with ChBE in 1990, she became its first tenured female faculty member as well. In 1998 she helped found the national committee for the Advancement of Women in the Chemical Sciences (COACh).

During her 30 years at Maryland, Greer was dedicated not only to her research, but also to improving the educational experience of all of its students. She has received the university's Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award (1988-89) and Kirwan Undergraduate Education Award (2008), and Clark School's Poole and Kent Teaching Award for Senior Faculty (2008) and Faculty & Staff Outstanding Commitment Award (2011). From 1987-1988, she chaired the President's Committee on Undergraduate Education–also known as the “Greer Committee”–an assignment that lead to the university becoming a national model of an environment conducive to the professional advancement of women.

"At the time I was hired in 1998, there weren't as many women on the faculty in engineering,” says ChBE professor and chair Sheryl Ehrman. “It was great to have Sandra as a mentor and friend in the department as I came up through the tenure process. Outside of the department, she was a powerful advocate for fairness, and her service improved the campus climate for everyone."

After retiring from the University of Maryland, Greer served as the provost and dean of faculty at Mills College, an historically female institution, from 2008-2013. She is currently a professor of chemistry at Mills, as well as a member of its Hellman Summer Science & Math Fellows Program.

For the full story about Greer’s award, see “ACS Award For Encouraging Women Into Careers In The Chemical Sciences,” by Susan J. Ainsworth at

Published January 31, 2014