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Scientist Renowned for her Polymer Research

Asian-American scientist in lab coat works in a laboratory at NASA.
: In the 1980s Dr. Ruth Pater, a quiet, determined scientist, improved state-of-the-art polymers for which she received global recognition. Credits: NASA

In 1981 Dr. Ruth Pater received global recognition of her materials research when the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) named her co-authored report on epoxy resins its paper of the year.  Pater was a senior research scientist in the Polymer Matrix Composites Section of the Materials Division at NASA Lewis Research Center. Her research focused on developing new hi-temperature and advanced polymers that could improve aircraft performance and fuel efficiency.  

Pater earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Tanchang College in 1962 in her native Taiwan. There she received the Chinese Women’s Association’s highest award for academic achievement. After emigrating to the U.S. in the early 1970s, Pater earned her master’s degree at Southeastern Massachusetts University and doctorate at Brown University. She worked several years in industry before joining NASA Lewis in 1980.

In 1986 Pater accepted a senior polymer scientist position at Langley Research Center. She authored over 60 technical papers and holds an array of patents, including four filed while at Lewis for her work in high-temperature polymers. In 1992 Pater received NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.