image: Dr. Yuan-Tsan Chia in the lab at Dupont Chemical, undated.
Yuan-Tsan Chia (M.A. Chem ’55, Ph.D. Chem ’58) (YT to her friends and American colleagues) was born in the province of Shanxi, China. She was the youngest child of Ching-Teh and En-Chang Chia. She persevered through many difficulties to obtain a good education, became the first member of her family to permanently relocate to the United States, and forged a distinguished career in science at a time when it was atypical for women to do so in an expert capacity. She was a research chemist at DuPont for over three decades and a long-time resident of Wilmington, Delaware.
She received her high school and early university education in Chongqing and Nanjing, China before following her family to Taiwan during the turbulent years of WWII. She graduated from National Taiwan University (NTU) in 1951 with a degree in chemistry and worked as a teaching assistant there before traveling to the United States for graduate school in 1953.
YT started as a teaching assistant at Mills College in Oakland but was encouraged by Mills faculty after a short time to transfer to UC Berkeley. She was selected for the prestigious Li Foundation scholarship. She received her master's degree and Ph.D. in physical chemistry graduating in 1958. She wrote her dissertation on the Chemistry of monocationic iodine in alkaline solution. She went on to her post-doctoral research at the University of Wisconsin before joining DuPont in 1960.
YT was the first woman to join the Central Research Department at DuPont working there for more than thirty years. She obtained a number of patents, collaborated on noteworthy projects (including improvements to the manufacturing processes for synthetic fibers, plus development of various Teflon and Kevlar applications) and published a number of scientific papers during her career before retiring in 1993. YT was an active member of the American Chemical Society and a charter member of the Wilmington branch of the American Association of University Women.
YT has left an initial bequest of $1.1 million to the College of Chemistry in honor of Professor Robert Connick who she studied with for her Ph.D. Her donation will ultimately provide between $1.1 to $4.0 million in funding to provide undergraduate scholarships to students in the Department of Chemistry.
More information about her life is available here.