Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau

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Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau

Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau (October 27, 1910 – January 12, 2000) was an American chemical engineer who designed the first commercial penicillin production plant.[1][2] She was the first female member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.[3]


Margaret Hutchinson was born in 1910 in Houston, Texas, the daughter of a clothing store owner. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Rice Institute in 1932 and her Doctor of Science degree in chemical engineering from MIT in 1937, the first woman to earn a doctorate in the subject in the USA.[4] Her thesis topic was The effect of solute on the liquid film resistance in gas absorption.[2]

On May 1, 1939, she married William Caubu Rousseau, a co-worker at E.B. Badger & Sons, who was later a chemical engineering lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They had one son, William.[citation needed]

She died January 12, 2000, aged 89, at her home in Weston, Massachusetts.[4]


Hutchinson started her professional career with E. B. Badger (where she met her husband-to-be). During the Second World War she oversaw the design of production plants for the strategically important materials of penicillin and synthetic rubber.[5] Her development of deep-tank fermentation of Penicillium mold enabled large-scale production of penicillin.[2][6] She worked on the development of high-octane gasoline for aviation fuel.[2] Her later work included improved distillation column design and plants for the production of ethylene glycol and glacial acetic acid.[5]

She retired in 1961 and became an overseer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.[7]

Honors and Other Activities[edit]

In 1945, Hutchinson became the first woman to be accepted as a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.[8][3]

In 1955 she received the Achievement Award of the Society of Women Engineers.[7][9]

In 1983 she was the first female recipient of the prestigious Founders Award of the AIChE.[3]


  1. ^ "Fifty Chemical Engineers of the "Foundation Age"" (PDF). CEP. American Institute of Chemical Engineers. September: 71. 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d Madhavan, Guruprasad (Aug 20, 2015). Think Like an Engineer. Oneworld Publications. pp. 83–85, 91–93. ISBN 9781780746371. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c AIChE Centennial Celebrations: "Milestones",; accessed November 2, 2016.
  4. ^ a b MIT Women's Association,; accessed November 2, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Hatch, Sybil E. (2006). Changing our world : true stories of women engineers (2nd ed.). Reston: ASCE Press. p. 179. ISBN 9780784408414. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  6. ^ "Ten chemical engineers that shaped our world (Day 356)". 18 May 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  7. ^ a b In Memorium: "Margaret H. Rousseau '37, First Woman to Receive Doctorate From MIT ChemE",; accessed November 2, 2016.
  8. ^ Tietjen, Jill S. (2017). Engineering Women: Re-visioning Women's Scientific Achievements and Impacts. Springer. p. 17. ISBN 978-3-319-40800-2. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  9. ^ Olsen, Kirstin (1994). Chronology of women's history (1st ed.). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 283. ISBN 9780313288036. Retrieved 20 November 2016.