Ruth R. Benerito - Personal Life

Personal Life

Ruth Rogan was born and raised in New Orleans. In an age when girls did not usually go on to higher education, her father made sure his daughters received the same education available to boys. She completed high school at age 14 and entered Sophie Newcomb College, Tulane University, at age 15, to study chemistry. She graduated during the Great Depression and hoped to do research, but jobs were not enough and for a time had to teach at local schools in Jefferson Parish, west of New Orleans, before making her name as a research chemist.

Her further studies took her to Bryn Mawr, and back to Newcomb where she taught chemistry while researching advanced quantitative analysis and physical chemistry, organic chemistry, kinetics, and thermodynamics. While working as a teacher, Benerito took night classes to earn her master's degree from Tulane University. During World War II she taught college classes, and she earned her doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago after the war. She married Frank Benerito in 1950 and went to work at the USDA Southern Regional Research Center of the US Department of Agriculture in New Orleans, where she spent most of her career.

In later years, while she was researching cotton fibers, Benerito taught classes part-time at Tulane University and at the University of New Orleans. She retired from the USDA in 1986 but continued to teach part time at Tulane and the University of New Orleans.

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