Hall of Fame



Dr. Donna B. Cosulich, Class of 1935

Research Chemist
Was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and moved to Tucson at age 3 with her mother, Bernice Cosulich, an outstanding journalist and writer. Donna grew up in Tucson with an intense curiosity about science and started focusing on chemistry at Tucson High School, where she graduated third in her class. She was a member of the Latin Club and was a feature writer/reporter for the Cactus Chronicle. She also wrote a column on Old Tucson for the Arizona Daily Star. It was also a Tucson High that her life-long interest in participatory sports and choral music was sparked.
She matriculated at the University of Arizona a chemistry major. During her freshman year she washed and prepared cultures at the Arizona State Bacteriology Laboratory and thought freshman chemistry as a teaching assistant. In her senior year she was elected to Phi Bea Kappa and Phi Beta Phi and graduated with high distinction in 1939. While an undergraduate she belonged to Chi Omega sorority and was elected to Spurs and F.S.T. During the summer she taught swimming as a camp counselor at Camp Chonokis al Lake Tahoe.
After registering for graduate courses at the U of A; she was awarded a teaching fellowship in qualitative and quantitative analysis for her Master’s degree in organic chemistry, a degree she received in 1940 “with high distinction”. After a year of study towards her doctorate at Iowa State College at Ames on a teaching fellowship, and a summer job typing blood and identifying tissue at the Arizona State Bacteriology Laboratory, she went to Stanford University at Palo Alto California where she received her doctorate degree in organic chemistry in 1943. While there she was a teacher assistant and was awarded an Eastman Kodak Fellowship and elected to Sigma XI.
In 1943 she began her professional life with American Cyanamid Pharmaceutical Research Department in Bound Brook. N.J as a research chemist. While there she was on a team of scientists who synthesized folic acid and was the inventor of the anti-cancer drug, Methotrexate. In 1958 she received a Cyanamid Achievement Award for advanced education at the University of Geneva. Switzerland, where she studied new methods for structure determination of natural products.
After transferring to American Cyanamid’s Lederle Laboratories Division at Pearl River, NY, in 1958, she became an X-Ray crystallographer for eight years, retrained again as a mass spectrocopist as a principal research scientist and is currently the Group Leader for Drug Metabolism research.
Among Donna’s interest is helping others find opportunities. She was a charter member of the Lederle committee for EQUAL Employment Opportunity for Professionals, whose members interact with colleges to encourage and find minority students and provide summer intern jobs at Pearl River. Her business profile is also included in Roberta Roesch’s book,” There’s Always a Right Job for Every Woman”.
Her professional society memberships include the American Chemical Society and the American Society of Mass Spectroscopists. She has published 60 scientific papers in the field of folic acid synthesis, antibiotic structures, X-Ray Crystallography and pharmacokinetic-drug metabolism, and sixteen patents have issued in her name. Honors and awards for Donna include the Triennial Iota Sigma Phi Research Award (1954), Cyanamid Award for Advanced Education and Research (1958), Cyanamid Scientific Achievement Award 1983, featured in U of A’s 100th anniversary celebration by Southwest Institute of Research on Women (1985), Sixth Cain Memorial Award from America Association for Cancer Research (1987), and the Lederle Patent Recognition Plaque for Methotrexate (1990).
Donna’s outside activities vary greatly from the scientific world. She was a member of the New Jersey Sky Patrol and is an avid golfer. She recently became a member of New Jersey’s prestigious Pro Arte Chorale, with which she has performed not only in the regular concert season in New Jersey but also in New York City’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, in tour of Italy’s music festivals and as part of the Salzburg festival. She studies voice and sings in her church choir. Active in the Episcopal Church, she has served on the Vestry, is a past Warden and former chairman of the commission on Ministry of the Laity and past member of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Newark.

Back to top