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Women and Science

This guide is for the students in the SEBS Honors Seminar Women and Science. Fall 2019. Instructors: Distinguished Professor Joan W. Bennett and Visiting Professor Catherine Read.

Mary I. Bunting, the third Dean of Douglass College

Mary Ingraham Bunting came to Douglass in 1955 as the third dean of Douglass College. A microbiologist with a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she was also a widow with four children. As a professor of bacteriology, she continued her research on Serratia bacteria. 

Jessie Gladys Fiske. Chair of Douglass Department of Biological Sciences

Jessie Gladys Fiske (1895-1966), was a graduate student at Rutgers and in 1918 and was hired as a laboratory assistant in Botany Department. She become a full professor and served as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at the time of her retirement in 1960. She established a teaching herbarium on campus with emphasis on local plants. She published on seeds, poisonous plants and weeds, including marijuana. In the photo from the 1920s, she is standing in the back.


On non-academic side, Professor Fiske was an accomplished equestrian. She contributed in establishing the “Crop and Spur” a riding student organization with its riding track where Hickman Hall now stands.

Jewell Plummer Cobb, the sixth Dean of Douglass College


A noted cancer researcher, and dean and professor of zoology at Connecticut College, Jewell  Plummer Cobb was appointed the sixth dean of Douglass in 1976. As the first African American to serve as dean of Douglass, Cobb had first-hand experience of the challenges that confront women and minorities who enter STEM fields. She had a PhD from NYU. 

Hazel B. Gillespie, Chair of Douglass Bacteriology Department (1956-1968)

Hazel B. Gillespie received a PhD from Yale University in 1937. Her dissertation was titled Bacterial variation and inquiry into its nature and significance. She served as chair of the Bacteriology Department from 1956 to 1968. Elizabeth Cook served as acting chair of the department from 1969-1972. During the last year leading the department,, Cook co-chaired with Hilda Christine Reilly, DC '1941. She was the first alumnae to be appointed a departmental chair. Prior to returning to Douglass College, her alma mater, Reilly had been a faculty member of the Sloan-Kettering Division of the Graduate School of Medical Sciences at Cornell University.

Image from Quair, 1958

Ruby Manikam. NJC, Class of 1926


Ruby Jesudasen Manikam '26 was the first international student graduating from the New Jersey College for Women. She was one of 26 students among 93 graduates to earn a bachelor of science. Originally from Madras (now Chennai), India, Manikan accompanied her husband to the United States and enrolled at NJC as a transfer student. She went on to receive an MA in bacteriology and public health at the University of Pennsylvania. See the article on Douglass Alumnae Bulletin, Winter '55 issues for more on Manikam after her graduation. 


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