Susan Van der Eb Greene ’65, Retired Research Analytical Chemist: Academia and Industry. Encore Career: Sculptor, Designer/Maker Fine Furniture

Susan Van der Eb Greene ’65

Listen to your heart and use your head. Math and science ignited my imagination for as far back as I can remember. Two weeks after graduation in 1965 with my chemistry BA in hand, I began job hunting in New Haven. My husband was completing a graduate degree at Yale. There are always challenging questions and confrontations to address in interviews and the workplace. “What kind of contraception are you using so we don’t train you and have you leave because you are pregnant?” Industry posed this question to me. The research job I took was in academia. The doctor who interviewed me said I would learn a relatively new analytical chemistry technique that would serve me well the remainder of my research life. He cared, and he was right. The salary was not as good as it would have been in industry, but the setting suited me well. Statistics about the job market were not as readily accessible then, as they are today. If you want to become a college professor, consider the job openings in your field as you make a decision about getting a PhD. Will the advanced degree open doors you want to walk through? If not, or you are not sure, don’t go there now. We have a number of friends and relatives who, with hindsight, went into fields they never really enjoyed. I will hastily add that sometimes there are no good options to choose among so choosing is not always easy. My husband’s job meant we moved 7 times, with children, cats and dogs, across and around the country. I was always able to find a research position, because we chose to relocate where there were universities, medical schools, industry. I never pursued a graduate degree. I took advantage of workshops, lectures, read on my own. My colleagues (predominantly male) said I performed like a PhD without one. The door a PhD would have opened, could have lead to heading a research lab. Such a position would mean more people management and less time performing and designing experiments, the elements of science I loved. I always knew I wanted to have children. Working and having kids is a juggling act, but a choice I made by finding part-time work until they entered middle school. During that time I was able to first author several research papers. At first my boss said he should have the first name slot on the publication. Traditionally, his role would have been indicated by being the last name in the string of authors for a paper. I challenged him, saying that although he had provided the lab and the problem to solve, I had done the work and written the paper. He acquiesced and I was able to credential myself for future jobs in research without a PhD.