Got milk? Don’t got brucellosis? Thank Alice Evans (1881-1975). Before she was the second woman scientist at the NIH, she was the first woman scientist to have a permanent appointment in the U.S. Dairy Division of the Bureau of Animal Industry . Her pioneering work on the disease caused by contaminated milk led to pasteurization laws. During her research, she contracted brucellosis and suffered recurring episodes for years.
Evans was born in Neath, Pennsylvania. Because she couldn’t afford college, Evans, like many other early women scientists, began her career as a teacher (you could become a teacher after high school like she did). But in 1909, she received her BS in bacteriology from Cornell University and in 1910, her MS from the University of Wisconsin. She never did earn her Ph.D., which caused a delay in the acceptance of her research findings on brucellosis and milk—male scientists and milk manufacturers found it hard to believe a woman without a degree. In 1918, she joined the Hygienic Laboratory (precursor to the NIH) to help with the war effort, conducting research on influenza, even though she came down with it herself. She later developed a diagnostic test for tularemia and contributed to other infectious disease research. She was also the first woman president of the Society of American Bacteriologists.
You can read her entertaining and informative memoir at http://history.nih.gov/archives/oral_histories.html