Gladys Anderson Emerson

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Gladys L. A. Emerson
Gladys Emerson early 1950s.jpg
Gladys Emerson, early 1950s
Born (1903-07-01)July 1, 1903
Caldwell, Kansas
Died January 18, 1984(1984-01-18) (aged 80)
Santa Monica, California
Fields Biochemistry, nutrition
Alma mater Oklahoma College for Women
Stanford University
University of California, Berkeley
Spouse Oliver Emerson (m. 1932–40)

Gladys Ludwina Anderson Emerson (1903–1984) was an American historian, biochemist and nutritionist who researched the impact of vitamins on the body. She was the first person to isolate Vitamin E in a pure form and won the Garvan–Olin Medal in 1952.

Early life and education[edit]

Gladys Anderson was born on July 1, 1903, in Caldwell, Kansas; she was the only child of Otis and Louise (Williams) Anderson and spent her childhood in Kansas and Texas. She received her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Chemistry and Artium Baccalaureatus (A.B.) degree in English from the Oklahoma College for Women.[1][2] In 1926, she earned her Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in history from Stanford.[3] After being a department head at a junior high school, teaching geography and history, she accepted a fellowship in biochemistry and nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley.[4] She completed her Ph.D. in animal nutrition and biochemistry in 1932. In 1932, she married her colleague, Dr. Oliver Emerson, and immediately following, she was accepted as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Göttingen, Germany.[3]

Research career[edit]

From 1933–1942 she was a research associate at the Institute of Experimental Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. There she was the first person to isolate Vitamin E.[4] During that time, in 1940, she and her husband, Oliver, divorced. In 1942, she went to work for Merck & Co. as a staff researcher where she remained for 14 years culminating in her role as head of the department of animal nutrition. At Merck, she identified the impact of withholding B6 as contributing to the development of arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

From 1950 to 1953, she worked at the Sloan-Kettering Institute, researching the link between diet and cancer.[1][2]

From 1962–1970, she returned to the University of California system in Los Angeles where she was professor of nutrition and vice-chairman of the department of public health. During this time, in 1969, President Richard M. Nixon appointed Emerson vice president of the Panel on the Provision of Food as It Affects the Consumer (The White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health). In 1970, she served as an expert witness before the Food and Drug Administration's hearing on vitamins and mineral supplements and additives to food.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

According to a close friend and colleague of hers, she was a practical joker. Shortly after earning garage privileges at Merck, Karl Folkers was working late. Emerson obtained a parking ticket which she placed on the windshield of his car on her way out. Folkers called her when he got home at 2am to accuse her of being a prankster.[5]

She married Oliver Huddleston Emerson. She died in 1984.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "World of Chemistry", Biography In Context (Gale), 2006, retrieved 11 Oct 2013  |chapter= ignored (help)
  2. ^ a b c "Notable Women Scientists", Biography In Context (Gale), 2000, retrieved 11 Oct 2013  |chapter= ignored (help)
  3. ^ a b c "Gladys L. A. Emerson". Chemical Heritage Foundation. 
  4. ^ a b Elizabeth H. Oakes (2007), "Emerson, Gladys Anderson", Encyclopedia of World Scientists, p. 211, ISBN 1438118821 
  5. ^ Karl Folkers (1985). "Gladys Anderson Emerson (1903-1984) A Biographical Sketch". Journal of Nutrition (American Institute of Nutrition): 837. 

External links[edit]