Ellen Swallow Richards (1842-1911) was an industrial and environmental chemist who laid the foundations for the discipline of home economics during the nineteenth century. She advocated the application of science to the home, and was the first to apply chemistry to the study of nutrition.
In 1870, she became the first woman ever admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in fact to any school of science and technology in the United States. She later went on to become the first female instructor at the institute. She argued extensively for the rights of women to higher education, and was one of the founders of the American Association of University Women.