Women in Technology Hall of Fame

Mary-Dell Chilton, Ph.D.

Mary-Dell Chilton, Ph.D.

Principle Syngenta Fellow, Syngenta

Inducted in 2004

Mary-Dell Chilton is a distinguished science fellow at SBI and author of more than 100 scientific publications.

Her research directed to improving the technology for introducing new genes into plants. In 2002, Mary-Dell achieved many professional accomplishments, including receiving the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Sciences for her innovative early research. This research became the foundation for many of the significant contributions plant biotechnology has made to agriculture today.

The award itself was one of the oldest and most prestigious scientific awards. This award is given to leading scientists, engineers, and inventors who have transformed entire fields of knowledge through their scientific discoveries and technical innovations.

Past laureates have included Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Pierre and Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking. In honor of Mary-Dell’s many achievements, in 2002, Syngenta announced the creation of the Mary-Dell Chilton Center—a new administrative and conference center at SBI.

Mary-Dell began her corporate career in 1983 with the CIBA-Geigy Corporation (a legacy company of Syngenta). While on the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, during the late 70s and early 80s, Mary-Dell led a collaborative research study that produced the first transgenic plants.

This pioneering work led directly to the field of genetic engineering of foods and plants. Her tenure has included both research and administrative roles, including vice president of agricultural biotechnology. As recognition of her incredible work, she was eventually awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Louvain.

She is also a recipient of a medal from the American Chemical Society and the John Scott Medal from the city of Philadelphia. She holds a position as a fellow in the American Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 2015, Mary-Dell was elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame following her 2013 recognition as a laureate of the World Food Prize. In 2011, she received the additional honor of being selected as the recipient of the Presidential Award from the Crop Science Society of America.