Ruth Mary Rogan Benerito

Ruth Mary Rogan was born on January 12, 1916 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the third of six children born to Bernadette (Elizardi) and John Edward Rogan. Her father was a civil engineer and railroad official as well as a "pioneer in women's liberation" as described by Rogan. Her mother was an artist as well as being active in civic and philanthropic projects.

Because her mother was truly a liberated woman Ruth had a lot of freedom. Ruth graduated the New Orleans Public School System at the young age of fourteen. Because of her young age she decided to wait one year before entering Sophie Newcomb College, the women's college of Tulane University. While in college she resented the compulsory dorm, as well as having trouble with the foreign language requirements. After she finished school there was little work to be found in New Orleans during the Depression so she took a position as a science and mathematics teacher. One her responsibilities at Jefferson Parish Public School was to teach safety and drivers education which required a crash course. In 1950 she was married to Frank Benerito and was 20 years later widowed.

Ruth majored in chemistry and minored in physics and mathematics. She received a B.S. at Sophie Newcomb College in 1935, her M.S. at Tulane University in 1938, and a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Chicago in 1948. Each day after school she studied with physicist and X-ray crystallographer Rose Mooney before receiving her M.S. Then during the summers and her leaves while teaching at Newcomb she earned her doctorate.

Ruth Benerito has been a pioneer in the development of wash-and -wear fabrics. She first worked to develop an intravenous fat emulsion for the Office of the Surgeon General. The fat emulsions which were produced for intravenous feeding, helped supply necessary calorie for long term patients. Benerito also investigated the reaction epoxies. Her findings have been used not only in the textile industry bur also to paper, film, and epoxy plastic manufacturers, and they have been applied in the use of epoxy compounds to preserve wood. Benerito has been granted over 50 patents. Her research has resulted in the development of cotton fabrics that are crease-and- stain resistant, comfortable, and "drip-dry" and better able to retard flames.

She was an instructor in chemistry at Randolph-Macon Women's College from 1940- 1943; assistant professor at Tulane University from 1943- 1953; physical chemist at the Southern Regional Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1953- 1958; head of colloidal chemistry investigation from 1958- 1961, head of physical chemistry group from 1961- 1986, and she is currently retired in her home town of New Orleans.

Benerito is a fellow of the AIC, a member of the ACS, the AOCS, the AATCC, the SRSA, the AAAS, Sigma Xi, and Sigma Delta Epsilon. She received the Federal Woman Award in 1968, Southern Chemist Award in 1968, the Garvan Medal in 1970 and the Southwest Regional Award of the American Chemical Society in 1972. She received an honorary degree from Tulane in 1981. And she was listed in the 1992-1993 edition of American Men and Women of Science.

 

Veronica Ruiz

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