Organic chemist Giuliana Tesoro made tremendous advances in fiber and textile chemistry that sealed her place in history as one of the most prolific female inventors of all time. Over the course of her career she was granted more than 120 U.S. patents.
Tesoro was born Guiliana Cavaglieri in Venice, Italy, in 1921, to a Jewish family. In 1939 she completed her high school education but was denied the opportunity to go to college due to fascist laws. As a result, she immigrated to the U.S. and earned a PhD in organic chemistry from Yale University, where she met her future husband, Victor Tesoro. She went on to conduct chemical research for a number of large chemical companies including Burlington Industries, American Cyanamid, Chemical Research Company and Onyx Chemical Company, now Millmaster Onyx.
Tesoro made advances in textile processing and organic compounds that have improved clothing performance for everyday consumers as well as for manufacturing systems. Among her many innovations, Tesoro developed flame-resistant fibers, designed ways to prevent static accumulation in synthetic fibers, and improved permanent press properties for textiles.
In 1972, Tesoro became a visiting professor at MIT. She taught there until 1976, but remained on as an adjunct professor and senior research scientist until 1982. In 1982, Tesoro joined Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, New York, as a research professor in polymer chemistry. She brought 40 years of experience in the industry to her teaching position and published numerous papers related to her research.
Tesoro was a founding member of the Fiber Society and served on the editorial board for the Textile Research Journal and on the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Fire Safety of Polymeric Materials. In 1963, Tesoro was awarded the Olney Medal of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists. She received the Society of Women Engineers’ Achievement Award in 1978.
Tesoro retired from Polytechnic University in 1996. She died in 2002 at the age of 81 in Dobbs Ferry, New York.