Chemistry is my obsession. It goes by leaps and bounds and I can never get it by the tail.
Nell Marguerite Ward
Dr. Nell Ward is the 1940’s Legendary Woman. She served UNO for 37 years as a passionate advocate for the study of chemistry and for her students. She started at UNO in 1918 and by the time she left in 1955, she was a tenured professor, had served as chair of the department, as dean of women and was named professor emeritus.
Nell was a native Nebraskan who grew up in Lincoln, NE, married John Lester Doan and died in 1981. Her interest in science came early to her. The chemical disasters of World War I and the burgeoning growth of scientific exploration and its related discoveries captured her attention. She was intrigued by the endless possibilities and variables in experiments as exemplified by some of the inventions from that era: color television, atomic bomb, Velcro, the Jeep, the electronic digital computer, the microwave oven, the Slinky, Silly Putty, Plastic Frisbees, the transistor and mobile phone.
Nell’s scientific expertise was recognized locally and nationally. When there was no publication to recognize women in science, publications for men in science recognized her. Her achievements are in Who’s Who in Science, a biographical directory of women in science, among others. Nell was named as a fellow in the American Institute of Chemistry in 1951.
Nell spent a lifetime promoting the importance of science education and was an active fundraiser for student scholarships. She founded the honorary society for students in the top 10 per cent at UNO. Her legacy is not just in the titles she held but in the inspiration she gave to her students. Her devotion to their learning and carrying on the tradition of promoting chemistry to even more students is what she would want us to remember.