Allison A. Aldridge

Born: October 11, 1961 | Ottawa, KS, US

Allison A. Aldridge attended the University of Illinois as an undergraduate, majoring in biology and taking many courses in chemistry. She then began a job in quality assurance at Hercules Aerospace, Inc. A friend encouraged her to seek an advanced degree, and she soon applied for and was accepted into the PhD program in chemistry at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois. Degree in hand, Aldridge accepted a senior scientist job at Unilever, where she stayed for about three years. Over her career, she worked for a number of chemical companies: Abbott Laboratories, Mikart, Inc., Revogenex, Inc., and Speed Laboratory, Inc. Dr. Aldridge was also Chair of the Committee on Minority Affairs at the American Chemical Society.

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0670
No. of pages: 48
Minutes: 123

Interview Sessions

Jeannette E. Brown
25 August 2004 and 23 August 2009
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Atlanta, Georgia

Abstract of Interview

Allison A. Aldridge calls Ottawa, Kansas her home town. Her father was in the Air Force, her mother worked in industry and she has three brothers. When she was young Aldridge wanted to be a veterinarian, but working with deceased animals in college changed her mind. She attended the University of Illinois as an undergraduate majoring in biology, taking many courses in chemistry.  She then began a job in quality assurance at Hercules Aerospace, Inc. A friend encouraged her to seek an advanced degree, and she began to take classes to meet the requirements for graduate school. She was accepted into the PhD program in chemistry at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois, where she wrote a two-part thesis with two advisors. 

Degree in hand, Aldridge accepted a senior scientist job at Unilever, where she stayed for about three years. From there she went to Abbott Laboratories, working in late-stage analysis, then in the more interesting early-stage. At Abbott she joined two affinity groups, which trained, mentored, and supported their members. From Abbott Aldridge moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to Mikart, Inc.  Besides Georgia's climate (especially after Chicago's), one of Mikart's attractions was that it had five of the first ten ultra high performance liquid chromatography systems; “small pharma” was also attractive to Aldridge.
The second part of Dr. Aldridge's interview takes place about five years after the first. In it she recounts her career since the first interview. She moved from Mikart to Revogenex, Inc., in Winder, Georgia, as Manager of Analytical Services, and then became Director of Analytical Services at Speed Laboratory, Inc. Dr. Aldridge was also Chair of the Committee on Minority Affairs at the American Chemical Society.

At the end of the interview, Aldridge advises young would-be chemists to have a passion for the science, to work hard, to develop themselves, always to question things, and to build networks as they go along. She contemplates perhaps returning to academia, as she misses the joy of teaching.
 

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1983 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign BS
1998 Loyola University PhD Analytical Chemistry

Professional Experience

Hercules Aerospace, Inc.

1984 to 1993
Senior Environmental Technician; QA Technician

Unilever HPC USA

1997 to 2000
Senior R&D Scientist

Abbott Laboratories

2000 to 2005
Associate Research Investigator; Senior Research & Development Scientist

Mikart, Inc.

2005 to 2009
R&D Analytical Manager; R&D Analytical Supervisor; Senior Scientist

Revogenex, Inc.

2009
Manager of Analytical Services

Speed Laboratory, Inc.

2009 to 2011
Director of Analytical Services

US Food and Drug Administration

2011 to 2016
Interdisciplinary Scientist-Chemist

Table of Contents

Early Years and College
1

Family. Childhood in Kansas. School. Early desire to be veterinarian. Determined character. Chooses University of Illinois. Majors in biology but takes a lot of chemistry. Dislikes dead animals so gives up idea of veterinary school.

First Job and Graduate School Years
6

Accepts job at Hercules Aerospace, Inc., an explosives company. Works in quality assurance. Encouraged by fellow employee to consider advanced degree. Studies mass spectrometry and analytical chemistry in spare time. Accepted into PhD program at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois. Black woman chairman of department an inspiration. Writes two-part thesis under two advisors: nuclear magnetic resonance of biological buffer; and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization of proteins and amino acids. Calls self "hard-headed" in determination to succeed.

New Opportunities
23

Finds new job in Chemical and Engineering News: Senior Research and Development Scientist at Unilever HPC (formerly Helene Curtis). Moves to Abbott Laboratories as R&D Scientist. Late-stage analysis at first; then early-stage. Affinity groups: Black Business Network and Women Leadership Action. Moves to Mikart, Inc., in Atlanta, Georgia; moves up to R&D Analytical Manager.

Final Thoughts
41

Revogenex, Inc. , as Manager of Analytical Services. Speed Laboratory, Inc., as Director of Analytical Services. Advice for would-be chemists. Chairman, Committee on Minority Affairs at American Chemical Society. Future career possibilities.

Index
47

About the Interviewer

Jeannette E. Brown

Jeannette E. Brown has a research MS degree from the University of Minnesota and a BS degree in the Field of Chemistry from Hunter College. She started her industrial career at CIBA Pharmaceutical Co. as a junior chemist, working there for eleven years, and she held the position of Research Chemist at Merck & Co. Inc. for 25 years. Brown is a former Faculty Associate in the department of Pre-College Programs at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, holding the title of New Jersey Statewide Systemic Initiative (NJSSI) Regional Director. She was appointed to the National Science Foundation Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women Minorities and Persons with Disabilities (CEOSE) and served on that committee for six years. She is the 2005 recipient of the American Chemical Society Dreyfus Award for mentoring minorities in science and she is currently working on a book about the history of African-American women chemists.