In Memoriam: Mary-Lou Pardue, 1933-2024

Mary-Lou Pardue, professor emerita of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died on June 1. She was 90 years old.

When Dr. Pardue initially applied for a faculty position at MIT in the 1970s, she was rejected. However, the university quickly reversed their decision, hiring Dr. Pardue in 1972 as an associate professor and the third woman faculty member in the department of biology. She was promoted to full professor in 1980 and again in 1995 as the Magasanik Professor of Biology. Her research on chromosomal genes laid the foundation for many future groundbreaking discoveries in developmental biology.

Alongside a group of other women faculty members, Dr. Pardue established the Committee on the Status of Women Faculty in 1995. The group wrote a letter to the then dean of science, outlining a pattern of bias again women faculty in the School of Science. In response, MIT agreed they had unfairly treated their women faculty members, and subsequently made changes to their working conditions, serving as an example for other higher education institutions to do the same.

Dr. Pardue was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 1983, making her the first woman in MIT’s School of Science to join the organization. She spent three years as chair of the academy’s Section of Genetics, and another three years as a council member. She was an active member of numerous professional organizations, and had stints as president of the Genetics Society of America and the American Society for Cell Biology.

Dr. Pardue held a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, a master’s degree in radiation biology from the University of Tennessee, and a Ph.D. in biology from Yale University.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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