Kwolek, 80, of Wilmington, Delaware, will join 11 other women in the class of 2003. Since the Hall’s founding 35 years ago, only 195 women have been inducted.
DuPont Kevlar is an organic fiber in the aromatic polyamide (aramid) family that combines high strength with light weight, and comfort with protection. It is famously five times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis.
Kwolek joined DuPont in 1946 as a laboratory chemist in Buffalo, N.Y. Having just graduated from what is now Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, she said she originally intended to work for DuPont for only a few years – just long enough to save enough money for medical school.
"I became so enamored of my work that I forgot about medical school and instead continued to work for DuPont," said Kwolek, who spent most of her 40-year career with DuPont at the Experimental Station in Wilmington.
"And the reason I think I continued was because I had a great deal of freedom, and there was a tremendous
amount of excitement because we were constantly making inventions of one sort or another."
Her groundbreaking discoveries in the 1960s in the area of liquid crystalline polymer solutions formed the basis for the commercial preparation of Kevlar aramid fiber.