Inventors are inspirational. Edith M. Flanigen is an inventor and chemist. She is known for the synthesis of emeralds and zeolites for molecular sieves.
Edith Marie Flanigen was born on January 28, 1929 in Buffalo, New York. She had two sisters. They were introduced to chemistry in high school. All three went on to study chemistry at D’Youville College. Edith graduated with honors, as class president and valedictorian. She, and her sister Joan, went on to study chemistry at Syracuse University. Edith received her M.S. in inorganic physical chemistry in 1952.
Edith took a job at Union Carbide company. She worked with silicone polymers before moving to the molecular sieves group in 1956. In 1973, she became the first woman to be named corporate research fellow at Union Carbide. In 1986, she was named senior corporate research fellow. She was moved to a joint venture, UOP, in 1988. She was named senior research fellow. In 1991, she was promoted to UOP Fellow. In 1994, she retired, however remained active professionally primarily as a consultant. While working, Edith invented over 200 different synthetic substances, took part in authoring over 3 dozen publications, and received over 100 patents.
Her work with molecular sieves led to the invention of zeolite Y. This molecular sieve could refine petroleum. Refining petroleum, for gasoline and other fractions, became safer and more productive. Her work also led to the co-invention of a synthetic emerald. These emeralds were used for masers, which came before lasers. They were also used in jewelry.
Edith Flanigen has received many awards and honors. In 1992, she became the first female recipient of the Perkin Medal. In 2004, she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 2014, an award was named after her by the Collaborative Research Centre at Humboldt University of Berlin. Also in 2014, President Barack Obama presented Edith with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
Be inspired! Have a bright day!