As a chemist and AAAS member since 1965, the late Marion Tuttle Milligan Mason wanted to support the advancement of women in the chemical sciences. She also wanted to honor her family's commitment to higher education for women, as shown by her parents and her grandfather, who sent several daughters to college.
In accordance with her will, a $2.2 million bequest from Mason's estate will establish the Marion Milligan Mason Fund to support research by early-career professional women in the chemical sciences over the next 20 years.
"I am creating this fund in honor of the memory of all the men and women of the Tuttle and Milligan families who believed in higher education for women and encouraged them in their pursuit of professional and business careers," Mason wrote in her will. In July 2012, Mason passed away in Bridgewater, New Jersey. She is survived by her brother, Dr. Barton Milligan, a AAAS Fellow, and his wife Carolyn in Asheville, NC and Freeport, The Bahamas, as well as her nephew, Charles H. Milligan of Wingdale, NY.
Administered by AAAS, the Marion Milligan Mason Awards for Women in the Chemical Sciences for $50,000 each will be given every two years to early-career, professional women to advance their research in the chemical sciences. Applicants must be American-born, naturalized citizens or permanent residents engaged in teaching or research at a U.S. Ph.D.-granting institution. The award winners will be chosen based on their intellectual merit, academic record and scholarly scientific study, scientific excellence and clearly articulated plan of study, demonstration of originality, initiative and productivity, references and potential for career enhancement as related to the proposed research.
The goal of the Mason Awards is to kick-start the research career of promising future senior investigators of the chemical sciences. "She [Mason] was concerned that young women did not have the same opportunities that men had in the sciences and that by funding such research, their careers could be advanced," said Charles Milligan, Mason's nephew and the executor of her estate.
"As those in the Baby Boom generation reach retirement age over the next 20 years, there will be a major turnover of leadership positions in the chemical sciences, giving women in the field unique and unprecedented opportunities," said Alan Leshner, AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the journal Science. "We are grateful that Marion Mason had the foresight to establish these much-needed awards, which will identify and prepare the next generation of women in the chemical sciences to fill those roles."
Mason was born in Cincinnati in 1927 and grew up in Westfield, New Jersey. She studied at Vassar College, an alma mater she shared with her mother and three of her aunts. "It was always a great source of pride to Marion that Martin Tuttle [Marion's maternal grandfather] had managed to send his daughters to Vassar at a time when college education of women was by no means the norm," said Barton Milligan.
After her graduation in 1949, Mason worked in Bound Brook, New Jersey as a chemist at the American Cyanamid Company. When she learned that, compared to her colleagues who had recently earned doctoral degrees in chemistry, she was performing similar work for considerably less compensation, she felt motivated to continue her education, and in 1970 Mason earned her Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Rutgers University.
The first Marion Milligan Mason Awards for Women in the Chemical Sciences will be awarded in the summer of 2015. Information about the application process will be announced in early summer of 2014.