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Wed, 03.20.1935

Bettye Washington Greene, Research Chemist born.

Bettye Washington Greene

*Bettye Washington Greene was born on this date in 1935. She was a Black industrial research chemist.

Bettye Washington was born in Fort Worth, Texas. She attended segregated public schools and graduated from I.M. Terrell High School around 1952. Washington graduated from Tuskegee Institute with a B.S. in chemistry in 1955. She earned her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Wayne State University, working with Wilfred Heller (1962). She also taught undergraduate chemistry at this time.

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 joined Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society.

In 1965, Greene joined Dow Chemical Company's E. C. Britton Research Laboratory in Midland, Michigan. She was the first Black woman to join the company in a professional position. She researched latex and polymers. Greene served as a Consultant on Polymer issues in the Saran Research Laboratory and the Styrene Butadiene (S.B.) Latex group and often utilized her expertise and knowledge. At Dow, she researched colloid and latex chemistry, including interactions between latex and paper. Her doctoral dissertation, "Determination of particle size distributions in emulsions by light scattering," was published in 1965. In 1970, Greene became a 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. She was subsequently promoted to the position of senior research specialist in 1975.  She continued to work for Dow Chemical until her retirement. She published several papers studying different properties that lend to the redispersing of latex. She also published work studying methodologies for determining the surface tension of liquids or solutions. Greene filed for several patents during her career at Dow Chemical.

In 1985, she received a patent entitled "Stable latexes containing phosphorus surface groups," describing a method of preparing a paper coating composition comprising about 2 to 30 percent of a modified latex containing phosphorus surface groups. In 1986, she received a follow-up patent entitled "Composite sheet prepared with stable latexes containing phosphorus surface groups," also employing emulsion polymerization techniques for preparing modified latex. In 1990, Greene received a patent entitled "Latex-based adhesive prepared by emulsion polymerization" for inventing a latex-based pressure-sensitive adhesive for coating conventional substrates to form an adhesive tape.

She left Dow Chemical in 1990. After decades of contribution to the science of polymers, Bettye Washington Greene died in Midland on June 16, 1995.


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