Diana García Prichard (born 1949) is a research scientist who conducts fundamental photographic materials research for the Eastman Kodak company, and whose graduate work on the behavior of gas phases was lauded for its inventiveness and received unusual attention and recognition by the scientific community. She is also an active leader in the Hispanic community and has garnered numerous awards for her work.
Prichard was born in San Francisco, California, on October 27, 1949. Her mother, Matilde (Robleto) Dominguez García, was originally from Granada, Nicaragua. Her father, Juan García, was from Aransas Pass, Texas, and was of Mexican and Native American descent. He worked as a warehouse foreman at Ray-O-Vac. Although both of her parents received little education, they knew well the value of schooling and saw that Prichard appreciated the worth and the joys of learning. After graduating from El Camino High School in South San Francisco, Prichard entered the College of San Mateo and received her LVN degree (nursing) in 1969.
After taking some years to care for her two children, Erik and Andrea, Prichard chose a dramatic career shift and reentered academia in 1979. Interested in things scientific ever since she was young, and always intrigued and attracted by the thinking process and creativity required to do real scientific research, she enrolled at California State University at Hayward and earned her B.S. degree in chemistry/physics in 1983. She then continued her post graduate education at the University of Rochester in New York, obtaining her M.S. degree in physical chemistry in 1985. Continuing at Rochester, she entered the doctoral program and earned her Ph.D. in chemical physics in 1988.
Her graduate studies at Rochester emphasized optics, electronics, automation, vacuum technology, and signal processing with data acquisition and analysis. During this graduate work on the high resolution infrared absorption spectrum (which basically involves telling how much or what type of atoms or molecules are present), she was able to construct the first instrument ever to be able to measure van der Waals clusters. Named after Dutch Nobel prizewinning physicist, Johannes Diderick van der Waals, the van der Waals equation accounts for the non-ideal behavior of gases at the molecular level. An ideal or perfect gas is one which always obeys the known gas laws. The van der Waals equation allows scientists to predict the behavior of gases that do not strictly follow these laws by factoring in specific corrections. Van der Waals clusters are weakly bound complexes that exist in a natural state but are low in number. Prichard's work allowed other scientists to produce these rare clusters by experimental methods and thus be able to study them. Her graduate publications on this subject were themselves cited in more than one hundred subsequent publications.
Upon graduation, Prichard accepted a position with Eastman Kodak of Rochester, New York. A research scientist in the firm's Photo Science Research Division, she conducts basic studies in silver halide materials for photographic systems. A member of Sigma Xi and Sigma Pi Sigma honor societies as well as a national board member of the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) and a charter member of the Hispanic Democratic Women's Network of Washington, D.C., she also served on the Clinton/Gore Transition Cluster for Space, Science and Technology in 1992.
Prichard founded a program in Rochester called "Partnership in Education" that provides Hispanic role models in the classroom to teach science and math to limited English proficient students. She has also co-founded, within Eastman Kodak, the Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Advancement (HOLA). She is married to Mark S. Prichard, also a research scientist at Eastman Kodak. As to what she is most proud of in her career, she says that it is the fact that although her parents had little schooling, she was nevertheless able to come to love learning, obtain an advanced degree, and work in a professional field that she truly loves. □