One of the pioneers for women in engineering, Jan Talbot retired from the University of California San Diego on July 1, 2018.
Talbot was one of two women in her chemical engineering class at Penn State University. In 1970, when she started her program, there were only seven women and nearly 3,000 men in engineering.
According to the National Science Foundation, in 1973, 576 women in the U.S. graduated with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Two years later, Talbot was one of the 372 women that earned a master’s.
After completing her degrees at Penn State, she became one of two women in her class to graduate from the University of Minnesota in 1986 with a doctorate in engineering and one of 225 women to earn that degree in the whole country.
Trailblazer in her field
She moved on to become the first women hired in her department at the University of California San Diego. “Since the beginning of my career I realized the responsibility of being one of a few women to follow this path,” says Talbot. “For me, it was following my passion in science and engineering.” In 2003, she became the second woman to chair of the Academic Senate at UCSD. Seven years later she was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Approximately 40% of Talbot’s master’s and PhD research students were women. “I embraced being a role model for other women,” says Talbot. “I served in promoting females in STEM fields from grade schools to teaching in the university classroom to mentoring graduate students and other faculty and colleagues.” She particularly liked to share her experiences as a single mother of a special needs child while balancing a demanding career and leadership positions.
Outside of her university role, in 1975 Talbot was the first woman engineer hired in the Chemical Technology Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She was the only female out of about 300 chemical engineers.
Talbot has made important contributions to science and to The Electrochemical Society. She has been a longtime member, served as board vice president (1998-2001), president (2001-2002), and was also the editor of Interface from 1995-1998. She became a Fellow of The Electrochemical Society in 2004.
Our contribution to Jan
As a celebration of her body of work, a new sponsored collection has been created in the ECS Digital Library. In line with Free the Science, ECS’s initiative to make research available to the public, ECS is accepting donations to make all of her 48 articles permanently free to read. Sharing her body of work will help advance the science of the field and promote women’s contributions to the field.
Give today to support Jan Talbot, a woman who broke new ground in engineering.