Sharon Crawford


Thanks to Vallaurie Crawford (left) who submitted this post about her mom, Sharon Rose Johnson Crawford.  Val says:

What a great project! And I must crow about my 76-year-old mom, who was the 3M research chemist who determined the optimum size for the tiny glass beads that make all of our highway signs reflect light.

She also was one of the first at 3M assigned to work on reclamation of radioactive materials, operating at the very smallest scale with tiny bottles of radium compounds. She was so fascinated with this project that she took home and kept these bottles of silvery goo — similar to the paint used on watch faces in the 1950s — and showed them to us years later.

There were only two women in her Hamline University chemistry department in the mid-50s.  She’s terribly modest about her time as a chemist, and in fact went on to another career in programming in the 70s and 80s. The patents for her work went to more senior male chemists, but the work was hers.

BTW I told my scientific writing students her story last week in class (at Taipei Medical University); we also read this excellent example of advocacy writing and discussed the (mostly troll-fuelled) comments it provoked on the Chronicle site:

I also attach a photo 20 years more recent than the one above (1992 one was in Amsterdam and 2012 one is Bemidji, Minnesota); at right is my sister Tami Hensel and I’m on the left in the India-print blouse.


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1 Response to Sharon Crawford

  1. Niv Mani says:

    WOW.. Those retro reflective Markers used in road signs were crucial for me in my Data collection when I was conducting a gait analysis for my research on Cerebral Palsy & Gait. I sure owe a thanks to her. Here’s the link to that paper..

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