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Mary Pennington to Be Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame

From eSociety, April 2018

Mary Engle Pennington, ASRE Fellow and member of the ASHRAE Hall of Fame, earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania under the name Edgar Fahs Smith. Throughout her career in bacteriological chemistry and refrigeration engineering, Pennington contributed to the development of safe handling, storage, and transportation of foods.

On May 3, Pennington will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame that celebrates the world’s foremost inventors and their contributions to society. Pennington is one of 15 inductees this year.

Pennington’s Work

A few years after earning her Ph.D., Pennington, 1872–1952, became the Director of the Clinical Laboratory at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1898. Pennington worked as a bacteriologist with the Philadelphia Bureau of Health where she was involved in scientific studies on the relationship between handling conditions and bacterial levels in milk products.

Her work was able to persuade farmers to agree to new procedures that would keep milk products safe for the consumer.

Pennington began working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1905 as a bacteriological chemist, and her work elevated her to become Chief of the food research laboratory.

She defined procedures of taking chickens from the slaughterhouse to the consumer.

A member of ASRE from 1920-1948, Pennington was elected Fellow in 1948.

In 1919, President Herbert Hoover awarded her to the Notable Service Medal. She was awarded the American Chemical Society’s Garvan Medal in 1940 and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002.

Pennington was inducted into the ASHRAE Hall of Fame in 2007.