The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Catalyzing students’ success creates a lasting legacy

Remarkable alumna continues to give hope to many through scholarships

Catalyzing students’ success creates a lasting legacy

Inara Brubaker ’63 PhD, far left, poses with Provost Bruce McPheron PhD, Maggie Griffin BSSW ’17, MSW ’19 and Dean Tom Gregoire PhD, at the College of Social Work’s scholarship dinner in 2017.

Chemistry pioneer, inventor, philanthropist. Inara Brubaker ’63 PhD led an extraordinary life.

Brubaker started a chain reaction of paying forward through her dedication to generations of Ohio State students. So many have followed her footsteps in the sciences and been inspired by her to help others, that it created a legacy of lasting impact that grows over time.

Born in Latvia in 1938, Brubaker emigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She later embarked on an impressive academic career, excelling in her studies when women in chemistry and mathematics were very rare. She earned her BS from Ohio Northern University in 1959, and her PhD in chemistry from The Ohio State University in 1963.

Brubaker was recognized by the American Chemical Society Chicago Section for her innovative contributions to applied research in analytical chemistry and separations, and in materials properties and recycling. She co-authored three U.S. patents.

“Inara was deeply respected by her peers in the American Chemical Society,” said Susan Olesik, Ohio State’s dean of natural and mathematical sciences. “It was a privilege to interact with her during my time as chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She was a pioneer in the field of industrial analytical chemistry and an ardent advocate for young women chemists. Just thinking about her impact brings a smile to my face, and I am sure I am one of thousands with the same response.”

Certainly there are many who feel the same about Brubaker, including countless students throughout the years who have received her generous support.

headshot of Inara Brubaker

Inara Brubaker, 1978

Ariel Mendoza ’18, an Ohio State graduate student in chemistry, said, “I'm incredibly fortunate and appreciative to have been awarded the Inara Mencis Brubaker Scholarship in Chemistry. This scholarship has allowed me to continue conducting meaningful research necessary for my PhD degree.”

Students with diverse backgrounds and interests are realizing their academic dreams because of Brubaker’s commitment.

“I funded the first half of my graduate degree with my G.I. Bill. The Inara Brubaker Scholarship Fund provided the rest,” chemistry student Joe Rodriguez shared. “I’m moving forward with my degree and have landed in a research group that directly affects my former life in the United States Marine Corps. We research medical countermeasures to chemical warfare agents, often comparing to 2-PAM, which I carried when I was deployed in Iraq.”

"I am a Hispanic student and greatly appreciate the funds available to minority students — they opened the door and that's all I needed." Joe Rodriguez, chemistry student

Sadly, Brubaker lost both of her daughters in a car accident in 1993. She later established the Erika, Andra, and Inara Brubaker Endowed Scholarship Fund for Academic Excellence in Domestic Violence and Child Welfare in the College of Social Work. In addition to honoring her daughters, Brubaker had a personal connection with domestic violence, which motivated her to create a scholarship for students planning to work in this field.

Though Brubaker passed away in 2019, her giving spirit is thriving in the hearts of all who carry on her commitment to improving lives.

“The last time I visited Inara Brubaker she shared letters that she exchanged with students long after they had graduated,” said Tom Gregoire, dean of Ohio State’s College of Social Work. “To her scholarship recipients, Inara was a friend first. She was humble and reserved about her donations.”

“What mattered most to Inara was the difference that her students could make in the world,” Gregoire continued. “Her giving was born of tragedy and loss and motivated by a deep desire to lessen the impact of domestic violence, and honor the memory of her daughters.”

In alignment with Brubaker’s intentions, Maggie Griffin ’17 BSSW, ’19 MSW is dedicated to creating change in our communities. “This scholarship allowed me to take an unpaid internship that shaped my social work career,” said Griffin.

“I feel indebted to Dr. Brubaker,” shared Isabelle Biglin ’20 BSSW. “This scholarship lifted a massive weight off my shoulders. As I progress into the field of social work, I aim to create a safe space for clients to be their authentic selves and become the best versions of themselves.”