SCIENTIST AND INVENTOR
UT Chattanooga, ’67
Part of the Tennessee Alumnus’ 100 Distinguished Alumni feature.
Chances are you’ve run your fingers through your hair with a product that came to fruition with the help of a 1967 graduate of UT Chattanooga.
Diane Schmidt spent more than 30 years in research and development at Procter & Gamble working on such wellknown products as Head and Shoulders, Prell, Ivory and Pert Plus—which in its time became the highest-selling haircare product in the world.
“What a kick! You can’t beat working on a world-class technology that becomes a national and international success,” says Schmidt. “Lots of talent and skills were brought to bear in the development of Pert Plus. It was a total team effort because so much is involved.”
She got her interest in science early on, winning at the 1963 Chattanooga Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
With Madame Marie Curie as her hero, Schmidt’s fair-winning project on fluorescence in certain minerals and her subsequent success as a scientist come as no surprise. Yet, her intellect is only one facet of her success. During her time at UTC, she was captain of the volleyball team, president of her sorority and Miss UC her senior year.
Upon her retirement from Procter & Gamble in 2014, Schmidt became president of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, in 2015. “I have always loved chemistry,” says Schmidt. “Chemistry is a very creative field. It’s one of the few areas in which you go into a laboratory and make a molecule that never before existed.”