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Bettye Washington Greene

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Bettye Washington Greene
Born(1935-03-20)March 20, 1935
Fort Worth, Texas, United States
DiedJune 16, 1995(1995-06-16) (aged 60)
Other namesBettye Greene, Bettye Washington
Alma materTuskegee Institute, Wayne State University
SpouseWilliam M. Greene
ChildrenWilletta Greene Johnson, Victor M. Greene; Lisa Kianne Greene
Scientific career
FieldsPhysical chemistry
InstitutionsDow Chemical

Bettye Washington Greene (March 20, 1935 – June 16, 1995) was an American industrial research chemist. She was one of the first few African American women to earn her PhD in chemistry and she was the first African American female Ph.D. chemist to work in a professional position at the Dow Chemical Company. At Dow, she researched latex and polymers.[1] Greene is considered an early African American pioneer in science.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bettye Washington was born in Fort Worth, Texas.[3] She attended segregated public schools and graduated from I.M. Terrell High School around 1952.


She entered Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, graduating with a B.S. in chemistry in 1955. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she earned her Ph.D. in physical chemistry working with Wilfred Heller (1962). She also taught undergraduate chemistry at this time. Her doctoral dissertation, "Determination of particle size distributions in emulsions by light scattering" was published in 1965.

Personal life[edit]

She married Veteran Air Force Captain William Miller Greene in July 1955. She had three children: Willetta Greene Johnson, Victor M. Greene, and Lisa Kianne Greene. She was elected to Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. She has no siblings.


Dow Chemical[edit]

In 1965, Greene joined the Dow Chemical Company's E. C. Britton Research Laboratory in Midland, Michigan. She was the first African-American woman to join the company in a professional position.[1] Greene served as a Consultant on Polymers issues in the Saran Research Laboratory and the Styrene Butadiene (SB) Latex group often utilized her expertise and knowledge.[4] At Dow, she researched colloid and latex chemistry, including interactions between latex and paper.[3]

In 1970, Greene was promoted to senior research chemist at Dow Chemical. In 1973, she joined Dow Chemical's Designed Polymers Research Division, again working with latex, to find polymers that could improve latex.[3] She was subsequently promoted to the position of senior research specialist in 1975.[4] She continued to work for Dow Chemical until her retirement in 1990.[1][3][5] She published several papers studying different properties that lend to the redispersement of latex.[6] She also published work studying methodologies for determining the surface tension of liquids or solutions.[7] She left Dow Chemical in 1990.

Greene filed for several patents during her career at Dow Chemical. In 1985, she was issued a patent entitled "Stable latexes containing phosphorus surface groups" describing a method of preparing a paper coating composition comprising the addition of from about 2 to about 30 percent of a modified latex containing phosphorus surface groups.[8] In 1986, she was issued a follow-up patent entitled "Composite sheet prepared with stable latexes containing phosphorus surface groups" also employing emulsion polymerization techniques for preparing modified latex.[9] In 1990, Greene was issued a patent entitled "Latex based adhesive prepared by emulsion polymerization" for the invention of a latex based pressure sensitive adhesive for coating conventional substrates to form an adhesive tape.[10]

After decades of contribution to the science of polymers, she died in Midland on June 16, 1995.[5]


Greene in 1970

Greene was a charter member of the Midland, Michigan Alumni Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, a national public service group emphasizing work with African American women.[1] The Midland chapter was chartered in 1984.[11][12]


Greene held a number of patents including a latex-based adhesive using a carboxylic acid copolymerizing agent, and latex polymers with phosphates used as coatings:[13][6]

  • 4968740: Latex-based adhesive prepared by emulsion polymerization
  • 4609434: Composite sheet prepared with stable latexes containing phosphorus surface groups
  • 4506057: Stable latexes containing phosphorus surface groups


  1. ^ a b c d Kativa, Hillary (March 2014). "From African-American History to Women's History Month: Today we celebrate Dr. Bettye Greene". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  2. ^ "The Complete List of Genius Black Inventors, Scientists and Engineers That Changed the World". interestingengineering.com. 2018-05-04. Retrieved 2020-07-12.
  3. ^ a b c d Warren, Wini (1999). Black women scientists in the United States. Bloomington, Ind. [u.a.]: Indiana University Press. pp. 109–110. ISBN 0253336031.
  4. ^ a b "Dr. Bettye Washington Greene (1935-1995)". Science History Institute Digital Collections. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  5. ^ a b "Dr. Bettye Washington Greene..." Blacksciencefictionsociety. 2020-02-17. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  6. ^ a b "9 black chemists you should know about". 9 black chemists you should know about. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  7. ^ Heller, Wilfried; Cheng, Mien-Hsiung; Greene, Bettye W (1966-08-01). "Surface tension measurements by means of the "microcone tensiometer"". Journal of Colloid and Interface Science. 22 (2): 179–194. Bibcode:1966JCIS...22..179H. doi:10.1016/0021-9797(66)90082-8. ISSN 0021-9797. PMID 5983141.
  8. ^ "US Patent for Stable latexes containing phosphorus surface groups Patent (Patent # 4,506,057 issued March 19, 1985) - Justia Patents Search". patents.justia.com. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  9. ^ "US Patent for Composite sheet prepared with stable latexes containing phosphorus surface groups Patent (Patent # 4,609,434 issued September 2, 1986) - Justia Patents Search". patents.justia.com. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  10. ^ "US Patent for Latex based adhesive prepared by emulsion polymerization Patent (Patent # 4,968,740 issued November 6, 1990) - Justia Patents Search". patents.justia.com. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  11. ^ "Our History". Midland Alumnae Chapter. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  12. ^ Wade, Cheryl (15 March 2014). "Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (Midland chapter) brings women together to celebrate 30th". Midland Daily News. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Patents by Inventor Bettye W. Greene". Justia Patents. Retrieved 22 March 2014.


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