Chemist Lucy Pickett taught at Mount Holyoke for 38 years, from 1930 to 1968. Her research on X-ray crystallography and ultraviolet absorption spectroscopy of organic molecules received numerous honors and was supported by grants from the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, and the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society.
Pickett is one of four Mount Holyoke women who have won the American Chemical Society’s prestigious Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal recognizing distinguished service to chemistry by American women chemists (the others are alumna Lila Gierasch 1970 and chemistry professors Mary Lura Sherrill and Emma Perry Carr 1902).
After graduating in 1925 with a major in chemistry, Pickett earned a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois and taught there and at Goucher College before returning to Mount Holyoke. During her teaching career, she was both a Mary Lyon Professor and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Chair in Chemistry. She was awarded an honorary doctor of science from MHC in 1975.
Upon her retirement, colleagues, students, and friends honored Pickett’s many contributions to Mount Holyoke by establishing a lectureship in her name. The chemistry department’s Lucy W. Pickett annual lecture series, which brings outstanding women scientists to campus, continues to this day.