Gladys Anderson Emerson

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Gladys Anderson Emerson

Gladys Anderson Emerson

“Gladys Emerson’s first major achievement, the isolation of pure crystalline vitamin E, was just the beginning of a long, productive scientific career.”
Journal of Chemical Education


Born in Kansas in 1903, Gladys Ludwina Anderson Emerson moved with her family to Texas before they came to Oklahoma and settled in El Reno around 1916. She graduated from the Oklahoma College for Women (now the University of Sciences and Arts of Oklahoma) in Chickasha in 1925 with a major in chemistry and minor in physics. She received a master’s degree in history from Stanford University in 1926 and accepted a fellowship in nutrition and biochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley in 1927. There she also received her doctorate and worked in the lab of Dr. Herbert Evans. Together, the pair isolated Vitamin E from its natural sources and “paved the way for the subsequent determination of the chemical structure of tocopherol, which made artificial synthesis of vitamin E possible.”

In 1942 Dr. Emerson join the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Nutrition in New Jersey and “proved the link between vitamin B-deficient diets and abnormalities of growth and posture, the eyes, skin, liver, kidneys, and other internal organs.” In 1956, she became a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and, by 1962, had become the vice chair of UCLA's department of public health.

Fun fact

In 1952, Dr. Emerson received the American Chemical Society’s Garvan Medal in recognition of “distinguished service to chemistry by women chemists.”

Oklahoma connections

Emerson moved with her family to El Reno, Oklahoma in 1916.


El Reno







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