Ruth Rogan Benerito was a chemist and professor known for her discovery of creating wrinkle-resistant cotton, which served as an advantage to the cotton industry. Benerito received her bachelor’s in chemistry from Tulane University in 1935 and attended Bryn Mawr College to further her graduate studies. After World War II, she earned a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago and moved to Chicago to work for the U.S Department of Agriculture. In 1950, she married Frank Benerito and continued her work at the USDA for most of her career. Her research team discovered how cotton fibers could be manipulated so that the chemical makeup would not be as weak and easily broken. She used “crosslinking,” a technique designed to add properties to the fibers by attaching organic chemicals to the cotton molecules. Benerito continued her research and taught classes as a part-time professor at Tulane University and the University of New Orleans. She retired from the USDA in 1986 but continued to teach until 1997 and received the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to textile research.
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