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Picturing Women Inventors: MSM/UMR/S&T Women Innovators

An online supplement to the Smithsonian poster exhibit, "Picturing Women Inventors"

Women Innovators and Inventors in the University and Phelps County Area

The first female scientist in the U.S. Public Health Service, Ida Bengtson was also one of the first female faculty member on our campus and one of many innovators to teach here.

An early “expert bacteriologist” Dr. Bengtson came to Rolla in the 1920s to study the bacterial infection trachoma. MSM Director Charles Fulton, delighted to have an “expert bacteriologist” in town, added her to the faculty. In Rolla through 1931, she also worked on a treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever.


Dr. Kathleen Sheppard's article on LadyScience: Selective Blindness: Ida Bengtson and the Treatment of Trachoma



Lelia Thompson Flagg, BS-Civil Engineering 1960, was a ground-breaker as the first Black engineering graduate of MSM, male or female. When she first arrived in Rolla, there were no female dorms and her first challenge was to find housing. She continued to prove preconceived notions wrong.

She was a member of the first Society of Women Engineers student chapter on campus, and later became the faculty advisor to Alpha Kappa Alpha. She was inducted into the Missouri S&T (then UM-Rolla) Women's Hall of Fame in the first round in 2005.

After graduation, she headed to California to work at the Bureau of Sanitary Engineering, and received her Master from UC-Berkeley Later, she returned to UM-Rolla and became Assistant Director of Admissions until 1998.



Lelia Thompson Flagg video, 2012


Eva Hirdler Greene

"As an active non-conformist, I have experienced an exciting life -with the usual ups and downs that most people encounter, " she says. "You know, I never see the hole in the doughnut -only the 'goodies' around that hole. "

Poem about Eva from Rollamo

Eva Hirdler Greene (1884-1982) was the first woman to graduate from the University of Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy, in May, 1911, with qualifications as a mining engineer. Unfortunately the school instead awarded her a BS in General Science, a mistake they rectified in 1972. A link to her Bachelors thesis is given below.

She was the first female Knight of St. Patrick in 1911, and can be seen here kissing the Blarney Stone. Eva Hirdler being knighted, 1911.

Mrs. Greene's first career included mining reconnaissance (for a St. Louis firm) and technical editing for the Missouri Bureau of Geology and Mines, and success as an independent oil producer. She was involved in the first drilling project using diamond drills in the early 1920's. After her retirement from the oil business, Mrs. Greene moved to California and began her second career as a human engineering specialist. As a pioneer in the field, she applied her engineering techniques to problems in human development -career guidance, industrial management, and family counseling. She was instrumental in developing testing methods to determine engineering aptitude, and owned her own company, the Eva Hirdler Green Aptitude Testing Service.


In the 1960s she was a founding member of the Society of Women Engineers.

At the age of 96, she was still advising students,  accepting some speaking engagements and was writing her autobiography. That book does not seem to have been published, though we have this article she wrote for the MSM Alumnus in April 1980.

Ms. Hirdler's Bachelors thesis

Phoebe Apperson Hearst

Phoebe Apperson was born near St. Clair, Missouri on December 3, 1842. At seventeen she began teaching at the Reeder School in what is now Meramec State Park. She was neighbors with a younger George Hearst as a child and was reintroduced to him as an adult when he came back from California to see to his dying mother. The couple married on June 15, 1862, despite her parent’s reservations and Phoebe’s insistence on a prenuptial agreement. The couple was pregnant with their only child by the time they returned to San Francisco, William Randolph Hearst.

Phoebe was a doting mother with a core of steel. She gave her son $7.5 million to by the New York World but also accompanied her husband to remote, rough mining operations. She was an avid supporter of the arts, literacy, and education. During her husband tenure as a United States senator, she supported the construction of the National Cathedral School for Girls, aided the St. Albans School and established a school to train D.C.’s kindergarten teachers. Later in life she founded the National Congress of Mothers alongside Alice McClellan Birney. She died of influenza on April 13, 1919 in her home in California having left a life demonstrating that “wealth is having money, and richness is using it to benefit others.”


Lucy Wortham James  Portrait by James Sergeant

Lucy Wortham James

Lucy was a philanthropist known locally for preserving Maramec Spring just west of St. James, Missouri and seeking to improve the lives of her fellow Missourians. Born in St. James, Missouri on September 13, 1880, she spent many summers at Maramec Spring with her grandmother, Lucy Ann Dun James. A favorite of her great uncle’s, Ron G. Dun, Lucy lived part of the time in New York with him and his wife. After her father’s death in 1912 she inherited a part of Robert Dun’s sizable estate. While not one of the ultra-rich, she had enough income to maintain multiple homes, enjoy long vacations at St. James and Maramec Spring while pursuing her philanthropic works.

Part of that work included buying property in Phelps County around Maramec Spring, ultimately 1300 hundred acres that would be opened as a private park with over 1800 acres in 1947. Lucy’s estate through the James Foundation also contributed to the St. James community by building the James Memorial Library in 1952, creating a public park, building a community swimming pool, constructing a new city hall, and paid for extensive beautification projects that led to St. James nickname of the “Forest City of the Ozarks.” Lucy died in New York City on January 20, 1938 leaving behind a legacy of giving and service.



Astronaut - NASA

MS, Chemistry 1982

Following graduation in 1982, Dr. Kavandi accepted a position at Eagle-Picher Industries in Joplin, Missouri. In 1984, she accepted a position as an engineer in the Power Systems Technology Department of the Boeing Aerospace Company in Seattle, Washington. During her ten years at Boeing, Kavandi supported numerous programs, proposals and red teams in the energy storage systems area. She was lead engineer of secondary power for the Short Range Attack Missile II, and principal technical staff representative involved in the design and development of thermal batteries for Sea Lance and the Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile.  Dr. Kavandi was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in December 1994 and reported to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995.  Dr. Kavandi served as a mission specialist on STS-91 (June 2-12, 1998) the 9th and final Shuttle-Mir docking mission, concluding the joint U.S./Russian Phase 1 program. Following the mission she worked as a CAPCOM (spacecraft communicator) in NASA's Mission Control Center. On her second mission, she served aboard STS-99, the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, which mapped more than 47 million miles of the Earth's land surface to provide data for a highly accurate three-dimensional topographical map. Dr. Kavandi subsequently worked in the Robotics Branch where she trained on both the shuttle and space station robotic manipulator systems. Most recently, she served aboard STS-104/ISS Assembly Flight 7A (July 12-24, 2001) on the 10th mission to the International Space Station.  Dr. Kavandi received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from Missouri Southern State College,Joplin in 1980; Master of Science Degree in Chemistry from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1982; Doctorate in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Washington,Seattle in 1990. 



NASA biography

Dr. Dan Lin, assistant professor of computer science at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has been named the 2015 Woman of the Year by Missouri S&T. She was honored during a campus ceremony on Wednesday, April 15.

The Woman of the Year award is given annually in recognition of efforts to improve the campus environment for women and minorities. As part of the award, Lin received a $2,000 stipend funded by Missouri S&T graduate Cynthia Tang, founder and former chair of Insight Industries Inc.

“Dr. Lin’s commitment to the promotion of diversity and student success in engineering and computer science is exemplified by her accomplishments over a relatively young career in academia,” wrote one of her nominators. “Since her appointment with S&T, she has worked diligently in advocating for, mentoring and educating students.”

Lin joined the Missouri S&T faculty in 2008. She teaches courses on cloud computing, pervasive computing, database systems, and file structure, and introduction to database systems. Her research focuses on the fields of database systems and information security.

“Computer science has for many years suffered nationwide from a lack of female role models such as Dr. Lin, to help stem the tide of the decreasing percentage of computer scientists who are female,” wrote another nominator. “Dr. Lin is a shining example for all S&T’s female computer science students, both through her research accomplishments, her student organization service, and her outreach to young women.”

Dr. Dan Lin (center) is pictured with Cynthia Tang (left) and Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader.

Dr. Dan Lin (center) is pictured with Cynthia Tang (left) and Missouri S&T Chancellor Cheryl B. Schrader.

At Missouri S&T, Lin has chaired the diversity committee in the computer science department since 2011. She also serves on the Honorary Degree Committee, the Student Scholastic Appeals Committee, the Peer Teaching Evaluation Committee and the computer science department’s Faculty Hiring Committee. She is faculty advisor for the student chapter of IEEE Computer Society and ACM-W (Women in Computing) and since 2009 has organized workshops for Missouri S&T’s Expanding Your Horizons program for girls in 7th and 8th grades who are interested in mathematics and science.

Lin has garnered over $4 million in external research grants from agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency. Her research has been published in numerous book chapters, conference proceedings and refereed journals.

A member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), Lin’s many accolades include the St. Louis Section of IEEE Certificate of Appreciation, two IEEE St. Louis Section Outstanding Branch Counselor awards, a Grace Hopper Scholarship and the Ted Nelson Newcomer Award for best paper at the 22nd ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia in 2011.

Lin earned a Ph.D. in computer science from National University of Singapore in 2007. She also holds a bachelor of science degree in computer science from Fundan University in Shanghai, China

-- Mary Helen Stoltz


Sandra (Hall) Magnus, Phys '86

Dr. Magnus received a bachelor degree in physics and a master degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1986 and 1990, respectively, and a doctorate from the School of Material Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1996.


During 1986 to 1991, Magnus worked for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company as a stealth engineer where she worked on internal research and development studying the effectiveness of RADAR signature reduction techniques. She was also assigned to the Navy's A-12 Attack Aircraft program primarily working on the propulsion system until the program was cancelled. From 1991 to 1996, Magnus completed her thesis work which was supported by NASA-Lewis Research Center through a Graduate Student Fellowship and involved investigations on materials of interest for "Scandate" thermionic cathodes.


Selected by NASA in April 1996, Dr. Magnus reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. From January 1997 through May 1998 Dr. Magnus worked in the Astronaut Office Payloads/Habitability Branch. Her duties involved working with ESA, NASDA and Brazil on science freezers, glove boxes and other facility type payloads. In May 1998, Dr. Magnus was assigned as a "Russian Crusader" which involved traveling to Russia in support of hardware testing and operational products development. In August 2000, she served as a CAPCOM for the International Space Station. In August 2001, she was assigned to STS-112. In October 2002, Dr. Magnus flew aboard STS-112. In completing her first space flight she logged a total of 10 days, 19 hours, and 58 minutes in space. Dr. Magnus has worked  with the Canadian Space Agency to prepare the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator for installation on the ISS.


While on the space station, Dr. Magnus maintained a blog, "Spacebook,"


Dr. Sandra Magnus has recently joined the Virgin Galactic Space Advisory Board, and is a principal at AstroPlanetView LLC.




Sister M. Joseph Kieran McAdams  (Patricia McAdams) was the first person to earn a Ph.D in Computer Science at UMR. A copy of her dissertation can be viewed at :

In 1992 she began working in Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technology.

Outside links:

Strong of Heart article

Strong of Heart video

Meeting the Pope in 2018






Dr. Francisca Oboh-Ikuenobe is a professor and past interim chair in the Department of Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She currently serves as interim associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering and Computing. Dr. Oboh-Ikuenobe obtained a PhD degree in Geology from the University of Cambridge through a Commonwealth Scholarship, and MS and BS (First Class) degrees from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in Ile-Ife, Nigeria. She teaches courses about the evolution of the earth, stratigraphy, basic and advanced paleontology, and paleoclimatology. She uses her training in sedimentology to conduct research in palynology, a sub-discipline of paleontology that uses organic-walled microfossils such as pollen, spores, dinoflagellates and acritarchs, to unravel the history of the Earth. Dr. Oboh-Ikuenobe is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Geological Society of America (GSA), and The Paleontological Society. She is an active member of several professional associations, serving as a director of the Association for Women Geoscientists Foundation, member of several GSA committees (including co-chairing the Diversity in the Geosciences Committee which introduced the On To The Future Scholarships), and as President of the AASP – The Palynological Society. A Fulbright Specialist Roster Candidate from 2010-2015, Dr. Oboh-Ikuenobe is an African Scientific Institute Fellow and member of the International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) Scientific Board (Global Change Group) of UNESCO/International Union of Geological Sciences. She is the recipient of more than 30 professional and civic awards and honors.

Mayme Hanrahan Ousley

Mayme Hanrahan Ousley was born on January 2,1887, at Edgar Springs in Phelps County, Missouri. She grew up in Rolla, and in 1905 she married Edward William Ousley, also a native of Phelps County and a 1906 graduate of Washington University’s dental school. Following graduation, Dr. Ousley set up a practice in St. James, and he and his wife made that city their home for their entire adult lives. They were prominent public figures in St. James, being active in the Chamber of Commerce, the St. James Charity Board, and the Episcopal Church.

The Ousleys were involved in many fraternal, social, and business clubs, and were particularly active in the Masonic and Odd Fellow lodges. Mayme Ousley was an officer of the Order of the Eastern Star and the Rebekah Lodge, and was for many years a trustee of the Odd Fellow retirement home in Liberty, Missouri. She was also a member and officer of the National Good Roads Association and the Ozark Trails Association, both groups promoting an interstate highway system in the 1920s.

Mayme Ousley was also quite active in local Missouri Republican politics and was one of the first women in the state to run for public office. She was defeated in bids for state representative and state senator, but she served four terms as mayor of St. James, elected in 1921, 1939, 1941, and 1955. She was the first woman in Missouri to serve as a municipal chief executive. In 1946, she was appointed to the board of the Missouri State Training Schools, which was charged with the responsibility of overseeing the schools at Boonville and Chillicothe.


Minnie E. Pinto

Minnie Estelle Pinto was born on November 25, 1870 to Mile Augustus and Margaret J. Pinto in Ross County, Ohio. The fifth of the seven children, Minnie grew up in Ohio but followed her older siblings west in 1891. She resided initially with her older brother Judge Ernest M. Pinto and his family but by 1900 was living with her sister Elsie and her husband Dr. Charles H. Fulbright. By this time, she is also attending dental school in St. Louis.

Minnie attended school at the Dental Department of the Marion Sims College of Medicine. The dental school was a three-year program and Minnie was only the second woman to attend the school. The only woman in her class, she none-the-less graduated in 1901 and returned to St. James where she initially had an office over the Gowin’s Drug Store. She served the St. James community for the next thirty years specializing in porcelain crowns and bridge work. She retired in 1930 after marrying her then widowed brother-in-law Dr. Fulbright. Minnie passed away on July 6, 1936, her death covered in a front-page obituary in the St. James Journal. She was “lovingly known to thousands in and about St. James, was a noble, kindly soul, possessed of sympathy and understanding that endeared her to all who came in contact with her.”




Dr. Cheryl B. Schrader is the only female Chancellor in the 150 year history of MSM/UMR/S&T. Under her leadership, from 2012 to 2017,

Schrader earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind., in 1984. She earned master of science and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1987 and 1991, respectively. Her research background is in the area of systems and control. As a researcher, Schrader has received several best paper awards; authored over 100 publications in the areas of systems and control, robotics, and intelligent systems, with biomedical, networking and aircraft applications; and delivered more than 100 invited presentations and keynote addresses. Her grant and contract funding exceeds $11 million.

A past president of the IEEE Control Systems Society, she served for five years as a member of the ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission. This commission, which is dedicated to providing world leadership in stimulating innovation and excellence in engineering, today accredits 2,100 engineering programs at more than 400 colleges and universities.

Schrader began her teaching and research career at the University of Notre Dame while undertaking internships and consulting work with McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. in the early 1980s and Chimera Research in the early 1990s. Following a brief period as an adjunct assistant professor at Rice University in 1991, Schrader moved to the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she rose to serve as a tenured professor of electrical engineering and associate dean at both a college of sciences and a college of engineering. Passionate about increasing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, Schrader’s current research interests focus on creating and assessing innovative learning methods to help students of all ages succeed in the STEM areas.

Schrader is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from the White House; the IEEE Education Society Hewlett-Packard/Harriett B. Rigas Award; the Idaho Women Making History Award; and the WebCT Exemplary Online Course Award. She was also named one of Valparaiso University’s Top 150 Most Influential People. She received the 2013 Distinguished Educator Award from the Electrical and Computer Engineering division of the American Society for Engineering Education and was named an IEEE Fellow in 2014 in recognition of her leadership and contributions in engineering education.

Cynthia Tang, Econ '85

Founder & Chairman (Retired), Insight Industries, Inc.

BS, Economics 1985


Cindy Tang is the founder and former chair of the board for Insight Industries Inc., in Platteville, Wis. Insight started as an entrepreneurial software engineering consulting firm in 1987.  The company is one of the largest software engineering companies in Wisconsin. Included among Insight's accomplishments if the development and testing of critical flight instrumentation used in many commercial airlines today. Insight became an employee-owned company in the late 1990s.


Ms. Tang is very active with UMR and in her local community. She served as president of the UMR Board of Trustees and continues active participation on the board. Cindy was a member of the Campaign Organizing Committee and was invited to speak to the Chancellor's Leadership Class. She also serves on the UMR Management Systems Advisory Board, and is a member of the Order of the Golden Shillelagh. Cindy is an Honorary Knight of St. Patrick and received the Alumni Achievement Award in 1999.  Cindy was recognized as an Honored Founder in 1994. In 1997, Cindy endowed the Cynthia Tang Missouri Professorship of Computer Engineering in the electrical engineering department. 


Cindy received her bachelor's degree in economics from UMR in 1985 and an MBA from Drury University in 1987. In 1994 she received a Professional Degree in Economics, and in 1998 received and Honorary Doctorate of Engineering degree from UMR.

Dr. Tamiko M. Youngblood

Dr. Tamiko Youngblood (1968-2015), who earned a bachelor of science degree in mining engineering in 1992, a master’s in engineering management in 1994 and a Ph.D. in engineering management in 1994, was the first Black woman to graduate from Missouri S&T’s mining engineering program and later became the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. from S&T. Her dissertation, "Techno-managerial potential of African Americans in workforce 2000" is available in person in the Curtis Laws Wilson Library. “I’ve always seen myself as being out in front, a leader,” she said in a 1997 interview with Missouri S&T Magazine. “I’ve always seen myself as breaking down walls to let more people through.”

Youngblood joined the Robert Morris University faculty in 2011. Before that she worked for two years as a research associate at the L’Oreal Institute for Ethnic Hair and Skin Research. She was previously an adjunct faculty member at the National Louis University in Chicago.

Dr. Youngblood also earned a master’s degree in information systems management from Loyola University of Chicago. From 1997 to 2000, she worked as a business intelligence specialist for IBM Global Services.

She was posthumously inducted into the Missouri S&T Women's Hall of Fame.