Mary L. Good

Born: June 20, 1931 | Grapevine, TX, US
Photograph of Mary L. Good

Courtesy of Mary L. Good

Mary Good received her PhD in 1955, and accepted a position at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her early work included iodine and sulfur chemistry and managing the radiochemistry laboratory. Good discusses her extensive involvement in the American Chemical Society, including her time as chairman of the board and later as president. In 1980, Good was appointed to the National Science Board by President Carter, and was reappointed by President Reagan.

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

			

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0171
No. of pages: 60
Minutes: 187

Interview Sessions

James G. Traynham
2 June 1998
Little Rock, Arkansas

Abstract of Interview

Mary Good begins the interview with a discussion of her family history, her childhood, and her early education. Her family moved from Texas to Arkansas in 1942, when her father was offered a principalship in Kirby. Good had very little science education in high school, and attended Arkansas State Teacher's College to become a home economics teacher. However, her interest in science was piqued by a freshman chemistry course, and Good soon became a chemistry and physics double-major. Her chemistry professor encouraged her to go on to graduate school, and she accepted a fellowship at the University of Arkansas to study radiochemistry with Raymond Edwards. She received her PhD in 1955, and accepted a position at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Her early work included iodine and sulfur chemistry and managing the radiochemistry laboratory. She moved to the brand-new New Orleans campus in 1958, where her research moved away from radiochemistry and into spectroscopy. In 1974, Good became a Boyd Professor at LSU. She soon returned to the Baton Rouge campus to help establish a materials science program. In 1980, Good left academia to join United Oil Products as vice president and director of research. Soon thereafter, corporate mergers led to the creation of AlliedSignal. Good discusses her extensive involvement in the American Chemical Society, including her time as chairman of the board and later as president. In 1980, Good was appointed to the National Science Board by President Carter, and was reappointed by President Reagan. In 1991, President Bush appointed her to the President's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology. Good discusses the support she received from AlliedSignal during this time. In 1993, Good left AlliedSignal to become the Under Secretary for Technology in the Department of Commerce. When she left the Department of Commerce four years later, Good joined Venture Capital Investors, which seeks to stimulate the creation of technology-intensive companies. Good concludes the interview with a discussion of her awards and honors, her family, and professional women in general.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1931 University of Central Arkansas BS Chemistry
1953 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville MS Chemistry
1955 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville PhD Chemistry

Professional Experience

Louisiana State University

1954 to 1958
Instructor and Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Baton Rouge
1958 to 1963
Associate Professor of Chemistry, New Orleans
1963 to 1974
Professor of Chemistry, New Orleans
1974 to 1978
Boyd Professor of Chemistry, New Orleans
1978 to 1980
Boyd Professor of Materials Science, Division of Engineering Research, Baton Rouge

United Oil Products Inc.

1980 to 1985
Vice President-Director of Research, Corporate Research Center

AlliedSignal

1985 to 1986
President-Director of Research, Signal Research Center, Inc.
1986 to 1988
President-Engineered Materials Research
1988 to 1993
Senior Vice President-Technology

US Department of Commerce

1993 to 1997
Under Secretary, Technology Administration

Venture Capital Investors, LLC

1997
Managing Member

University of Arkansas, Little Rock

1997
Donaghey University Professor

Honors

Year(s) Award
1969

Agnes Faye Morgan Research Award

1973

Distinguished Alumnae Citation, University of Arkansas

1973

Garvan Medal, American Chemical Society

1974

American Institute of Chemists Honor Scroll, Louisiana Chapter

1975

Herty Medal, American Chemical Society, Georgia Section

1979

Florida Award, American Chemical Society, Florida Section

1982

Scientist of the Year, Industrial Research and Development Magazine

1983

Gold Medal, American Institute of Chemists

1986

Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science

1987

Elected Member, National Academy of Engineering

1988

Delmer S. Fahrney Medal, Franklin Institute

1990

New Jersey Women of Achievement Award, Douglass College at Rutgers University

1991

Charles Lathrop Parsons Award, American Chemical Society

1991

Industrial Research Institute Medalist Award

1991

ASM International Distinguished Life Membership Award, The Materials Information Society

1991

American Association of State Colleges and Universities Distinguished Alumnus Award

1992

American Association for the Advancement of Science Award

1992

Distinguished Public Service Award, National Science Foundation

1992

Albert Fox Demers Medal Award, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

1993

Ralph Coats Roe Medal, American Society of Mechanical Engineers

1994

Fellow, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences

1995

Honorary Fellowship, The Royal Society of Chemistry

1996

Earle B. Barnes Award for Leadership in Chemical Research Management, Dow Chemical Company

1996

UCLA Glenn T. Seaborg Medal

1996

Federation of Materials Societies National Materials Advancement Award

1997

Priestley Medal, American Chemical Society

1998

Othmer Gold Medal, Chemical Heritage Foundation

1999

Philip Abelson Award, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Table of Contents

Family Background and Early Education
1

Grandparents. Moving from Texas to Arkansas. Influence of parents. Attending Willisville High School.

College Education and Graduate School
3

Decision to attend Arkansas State Teacher's College. Intent to teach home economics. Becoming a chemistry/physics double-major. Influence of chemistry professor. Campus activities. Fellowship at University of Arkansas. Interest in radiochemistry. Marie Curie as a role model. Working with Raymond Edwards. Research for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). Radioisotopes. Marriage and family.

Louisiana State University (LSU)
8

Decision to join the faculty at LSU in Baton Rouge. Colleagues. Learning to teach. AEC grants. Iodine chemistry and sulfur chemistry with Sean McGlynn. Colleagues at LSU. Managing the radiochemistry laboratory. Moving to the New Orleans campus. Interest in spectroscopy. Becoming Boyd Professor. Friction between LSU campuses. Returning to Baton Rouge campus. Materials science program. Relationship between chemistry and engineering.

United Oil Products (UOP) and AlliedSignal
23

Recruitment as vice president and director for research at UOP. Modernizing computer equipment. Corporate merger. Becoming AlliedSignal. Joint ventures.

American Chemical Society (ACS)
30

Involvement in local sections. Meetings and Expositions Committee. Election to Board of Directors. Running for president. Publications Committee. Chairman of the Board. Influence on Chemical Abstracts Service.

Government Roles
34

Appointment to National Science Board by President Carter. Impressions of the National Science Foundation. Joining President's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology. Problems of technology policy. Support of AlliedSignal. Becoming Under Secretary for Technology in Department of Commerce. Government support for R&D.

Retirement
44

Working for Venture Capital Investors. Consulting. Awards and honors. Family.

Notes
53
Index
54

About the Interviewer

James G. Traynham

James G. Traynham is a professor of chemistry at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University. He joined Louisiana State University in 1953 and served as chemistry department chairperson from 1968 to 1973. He was chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1988 and is currently councilor of the Baton Rouge section of the American Chemical Society. He was a member of the American Chemical Society’s Joint-Board Council on Chemistry and Public Affairs, as well as a member of the Society’s Committees on Science, Chemical Education, and Organic Chemistry Nomenclature. He has written over 90 publications, including a book on organic nomenclature and a book on the history of organic chemistry.