Robert and Mae Carter Women in Chemistry Initiative

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Alumnus Robert (BS ’42) and Mae Carter have donated $100,000 to support the Women in Chemistry Initiative in the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

The initiative is meant to retain and/or recruit under represented faculty and/or postdoctoral scholars in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry with preference given to female faculty and/or postdoctoral scholars.

“I am very excited to establish the Women in Chemistry Initiative” said Professor Catherine Clarke, currently the department’s first female Chair. “This initiative will help us recruit and retain talented women professors and postdoctoral scholars. Women in science face many challenges, and these funds will enhance our ability to help them network and support one another”.

The UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry currently has 15 female faculty members. Pictured here are (back row) Professors Ohyun Kwon, Paula Diaconescu, Sarah Tolbert, Sabeeha Merchant, Heather Maynard, and Margot Quinlan, (front row) Professors Robin Garrell, Ellen Sletten, Catherine Clarke (the department’s first female Chair), Juli Feigon, Keriann Backus. Not pictured are Professors Anastassia Alexandrova, Anne Andrews, Carla Koehler, and Joan Valentine (Princeton’s first female Ph.D. student).

Robert “Bob” Carter received a B.S. in chemistry from UCLA in 1942 and was a member of the Alpha Chi Sigma chemistry professional fraternity. After graduation, he started working at the Tidewater Associated Oil Company’s Avon Refinery and, in 1956, he transferred to the company’s new Delaware City Refinery in Delaware. He retired in 1977. In 1997, Bob met with Professor Emil Reisler, former Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, to discuss what he could do to support women chemists at UCLA. Since that time Bob has made an annual donation for this purpose. In 2017 Bob proposed an endowment dedicated to the support of Women in Chemistry. His gift is being matched with the Jung funds.

Mae Carter is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.  Before retiring, she was the Assistant Provost of Women’s Affairs and Director of the Commission on the Status of Women at the University of Delaware, where she had worked since 1969. The Carters have supported many women’s initiatives at the University of Delaware.

In the past few years, the UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry has made great strides in advancing women in Chemistry.  We currently have 15 female faculty members.  In 2016, Professor Catherine Clarke became the first female Chair of the department. 

The number of female chemistry & biochemistry graduate students has increased tremendously.  From 1962 to 1964, only four women received Ph.D.s in chemistry or biochemistry at UCLA.  In contrast, out of the 54 incoming chemistry graduate students who will start in the Fall 2018, 25 are female (46%).  For the incoming BMSB cohort, 3 out of 7 are female (43%).  In 2017, Chemistry’s cohort was 28 out of 51 (55%) female, and BMSB had a cohort of 5 out of 13 female (38%).

To make a contribution to the fund, in honor of the 100th birthday of Robert Carter, please contact Penny Jennings,, 310-825-9809.