Research Scientist, Ecology (1842-1911)
Ellen worked as a tutor so she could afford to get a university education, and graduated in the first class from Vassar College, the only university at that time that would accept women. Ellen enjoyed studying chemistry, and after Vassar professors told the Massachusetts Institute of Technology how smart she was, Ellen became MIT's first woman student. Because she was a woman, though, MIT would not let her get her doctorate. Ellen met Robert Richards at MIT and later married him. During her studies, Ellen noticed that everything in the natural world was affected by pollutants, and fought to make people aware of this. Ellen named two fields of science, "ecology", the study of how living things are affected by the world around them, and "euthenics", the idea of improving people's lives by improving the world.
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Information adapted from History of Women in Science for Young People by Vivian Sheldon Epstein.