Myrna Pearson Papers
Scope and Contents
- Other: 1969 - 1992
Myrna S. Pearson was born Myrna Schmidt on July 7, 1936, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is married to Allan E. Pearson, and has two children.
She received an undergraduate degree (A.B.) from the College for Women at the University of Pennsylvania in 1958, her A.M. from Columbia University in 1959, and her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1963.
During her undergraduate career her academic honors included Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Mu Epsilon (Mathematics Honor Society), the Merck Index Award in Chemistry, the Philadelphia Section of the American Chemical Society Award for Scholastic Achievement.
While a graduate student at Columbia University, she served as a teaching assistant in general and organic chemistry for one year, then as a laboratory lecturer for organic chemistry at Columbia College as the DuPont Teaching Fellow for two years. She was the first woman to hold that post. While at Columbia she also received the ESSO Fellowship Award, and became a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society.
After receiving her Ph.D. in chemistry in 1963, she accepted a temporary, one-year appointment as Assistant Professor in Chemistry at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she taught courses in organic and physical chemistry. In 1964, she was appointed by Wheaton College as Assistant Professor in Chemistry. She was subsequently appointed Associate Professor of Chemistry in 1970 and Professor of Chemistry in 1982. She noted that “by the time [she] joined the Wheaton faculty, [she] had three years experience teaching all men and one year teaching in a coeducational environment.” During her tenure at Wheaton, her research and publications centered around free radical chemistry, keto-enol tautomerism, and the use of computers in chemical education. She taught courses in organic, physical, and environmental chemistry, and participated in interdisciplinary courses with economics, biology, and political science faculty. She was committed to supporting initiatives for gender balance in the curriculum, advancing critical thinking through faculty and library collaboration, enhancing writing curriculum across disciplines.
While serving as professor, Myrna Pearson, became interested in water quality issues, particularly those involving the Norton Reservoir, a body of water that had originally been used for recreational purposes but had become polluted and algae-clogged. She conducted her own research, which included creating and using N.M.R. spectra to identify chemical compounds in the water, and supervised a number of students on chemical studies, some of which were developed into student theses. Her goal in these pursuits was to contribute critical data to support Norton’s restoration of the Reservoir. To this end, she collaborated with the Norton Conservation Commission, environmental consultants working on Norton water quality issues, and other state water quality professionals, and served as a member of the Water Quality Monitoring Advisory Committee to the Taunton Watershed Alliance (TWRA). She was also involved with community outreach on the Norton Reservoir dredging project as well as subsequent water quality public information efforts.
34.0 boxes (Some of the "Boxes" are items tennis racquet etc. Newsletters, environmental papers, pollution papers, teaching materials etc. )
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Processed by: Andrea Devlin, Simmons College GSLIS Intern, Spring 2014
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