Women microbiologists at Rutgers in the early golden age of antibiotics

Douglas E. Eveleigh, Joan W. Bennett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Streptomycin was discovered at Rutgers University by a graduate student named Albert Schatz, working in the laboratory of Selman Waksman. This golden age of antibiotic discovery unfolded against the backdrop of World War II and opened new doors for women in microbiology, who welcomed the opportunity to use their intellects, participate in the war effort, and experience the thrill of scientific discovery. Elizabeth Horning initiated the direct plate screening method used bySchatz, replacing a prior, slow enrichment protocol. Doris Jones provided one of the first streptomycin-producing strains and then performed the first animal trials, illustrating the nontoxic nature of streptomycin in chicks. Elizabeth Bugie (later Gregory) confirmed the antimicrobial activity of streptomycin and was coauthor on the first published paper about it. Her name was left off the patent because Waksman predicted she would "just get married." Christine Reilly developed quick screening methods for the isolation of antibiotic-producing strains and demonstrated the first case of streptomycin resistance. Dorris Hutchison advanced our understanding of streptomycin's effect on the tubercle bacillus. Vivian Schatz backed her husband, Albert, in his quixotic battle for appropriate recognition. Overall, women in the Waksman laboratory made substantial intellectual contributions, conducted independent research, provided technical and scholarly input to ongoing projects, and were intimately concerned at every level of the research. These women merit greater recognition for their key contributions in the development of the world's antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWomen in Microbiology
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781683670575
ISBN (Print)9781555819538
StatePublished - Apr 10 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Antibiotics
  • Doris Jones
  • Dorris Jeanette Hutchison
  • Early Golden Age
  • Elizabeth Jane Bugie
  • Elizabeth Schwebel
  • Hilda Christine Reilly
  • Rutgers University
  • Vivian Rosenfeld Schatz
  • Women microbiologists


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