Martha Greenblatt, a chemist, researcher, and faculty member at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, is the only female chair of a science department in the School of Arts and Science to date (Jan 2008). Greenblatt took the position of Chair of the Chemistry Department at Rutgers while pursuing research interests in solid state inorganic chemistry. She was also the recipient of the 2003 American Chemical Society’s Garvan-Olin Medal – a national award given yearly to an outstanding woman chemist. In 2004, she became Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry at Rutgers.
Greenblatt has had a very significant life. A Holocaust survivor, she escaped from Soviet-occupied Hungary at the young age of fifteen. She came to New York City and attended high school in Brooklyn. In January 1962 she received a BSc (cum laude) in Chemistry from Brooklyn College and she chose to work for the Chiclets Chewing Gum Company in Long Island City as a chemist. She quickly grew bored with the work and began applying to graduate school. The chemistry department at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn appealed to her and she chose it partly for its location near home. At the time, it had one of the best polymer facilities in the area, and the crystallography lab was also highly rated. Greenblatt took the famous Introduction to Polymer from Professor Herman Marks; Rudy Marcus was her chemical physics professor, who later received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work he did at the Polytechnic Institute in those years.