“Science makes people reach selflessly for truth and objectivity; it teaches people to accept reality, with wonder and admiration, not to mention the deep awe and joy that the natural order of things brings to the true scientist.” -Lisa Meitner in a lecture to the Austrian UNESCO Commission (1953)
(1878-1968) Lisa Meitner was an Austrian physicist who worked on nuclear physics and radioactivity. She was on the team that discovered nuclear fission. For this achievment, teammate Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize, which has led to many accounts of opinion that she was overlooked for such a recognition. However, the creators of the periodic table did no such thing as they honored her by naming element 109 for her: Meitnerium, which was first synthesized in 1982. Dr. Meitner was the second female to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Vienna in 1905.
Source: Atomic Archive
“In addition to the scientific aspects of her work, she made a substantial effort to communicate her enthusiasm to the public. After the Spacelab 2 mission she often gave presentations to adult and student audiences on her experiences, sometimes bringing along her flight suit. She received letters from all over the world from correspondents who had read of her role.” – From her Smithsonian and NASA obituary
(1938-2002) Dianne Prinz retired from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) after 29 years of service. During her career, she supervised the team of scientists that was operating the SUSIM (Solar Ultraviolet Irradiance Monitor) experiment on the UARS (Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) spacecraft. SUSIM flew aboard the US Space Shuttle and a Spacelab 2 mission. Dr. Prinz was selected as a payload specialist astronaut in 1978 but her slated flight was cancelled in the aftermath of the Challenger tragedy. Dr. Prinz was the head of the Solar Radiation section at the NRL at the time of her death in 2002, when she succumbed to lymphatic cancer.
Source: Harvard University
“If the ambience of her home had been different, she might have never chosen a career in mathematics, but the provocative discussions that swooped and soared around the young Emmy’s head sparked an interest that was overpowering.” Lynn M. Osen, Women In Mathematics , MIT Press, 1974
(1882-1935) Emmy Noether was a German mathematician who is most well known for her contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics.. She is regarded by many as the most influential woman in the history of math, including by the likes of Albert Einstein. As a young girl, however, Dr. Noether’s concentration was on languages, having become fluent in French and English. She did earn her doctorate in math but found it difficult to get a job in the field as a female. She chose to work for her father in the same field and published many papers during that decade.
Source: Agnes State College
(1930- ) Sandra Day O’Connor was the first female Supreme Court justice and was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan in 1981. She completed her education at Stanford University and served in the Arizona courts before assuming her place in the nation’s highest judicial position. O’Connor battled and won her fight with breast cancer in 1994. She retired from the Supreme Court in 2006.
Source: Cornell University
This is a special place with exciting missions that push the frontiers of human knowledge, and it’s filled with people that love the work they do and are completely committed to America’s space program.- Shana Dale
(1964- ) Shana Dale was nominated by former President George W. Bush to preside as deputy administrator of NASA in 2005, making her the first female to hold the post and consequently the highest rank a woman has ever held at NASA. As deputy administrator, she served as the agency’s second in command and was responsible to the administrator for providing overall leadership, planning, and policy direction for the agency. Before serving in this post, Dale was the deputy director of Homeland and National Security for the Executive Office of the President. She received her law degree from California Western School for Law.
“Just as the pioneer travelers of the Conestoga wagon days kept personal journals, I, as a pioneer space traveler, would do the same.” – Christa McAuliffe
(1948-1986) Christa McAuliffe was selected from over 11,000 applicants as a payload specialist astronaut for the Teacher in Space program in 1985. She planned to teach two lessons from Space Shuttle Challenger. In 1986, the space shuttle experienced a fatal launch, taking the lives of all seven astronauts aboard, including Ms. McAuliffe. She was previously a teacher from New Hampshire, teaching social studies, American history, and other classes.
Source: NASA JSC
(1821-1910 ) Elizabeth Blackwell was accepted to Geneva Medical College of New York in 1848. Her story seems to be one of chance. The story goes that Geneva Medical College did not want to risk rejecting a female applicant so they polled the medical students on what they should do. Under the impression that a rival school had submitted the application, the students voted to admit the candidate. Elizabeth Blackwell eventually became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. Dr. Blackwell later worked with Florence Nightingale to provide training for nurses in the Civil War, and they helped establish the United States Sanitary Commission in 1861, which aimed to improve conditions in military hospitals. Dr. Blackwell also founded the Women’s Medical College in New York City. In 1899, Cornell University Medical School began to admit women, and in turn, the Women’s Medical College closed.
(1913-2005) Rosa Parks was born in Tuskeegee, Alabama and attended a school for all African-American children in the 1920s. Her school only went up to the sixth grade, and at the age of 11, she was sent to Mongomery, Alabama for further studies. Unfortunately, she had to drop out of school to care for a sick family member. Ms. Parks is most often remembered by the masses for her refusal to give up her bus seat during an era where this was expected from an African-American. Many have credited this moment to be the spark for the modern civil rights movement in the United States. Eventually, Ms. Parks and her fellow civil rights leaders movements led to the 1956 Supreme Court ruling declaring segregation illegal on public buses.
Source: Scholastic for Teachers
“It might seem unfair to reward a person for having so much pleasure over the years, asking the maize plant to solve specific problems and then watching its responses. ” – Barbara McClintock
(1902-1992) Barbara McClintock was an American geneticist who discovered transposition of genes through her work on plants, specifically corn. Genetic transposition is the movement of genes to various positions on the chromosome. This discovery was completely opposite of the genetic understanding at that time, and it was not until her findings were confirmed as molecular techniques improved that she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983. She became the first woman to win a non-shared Nobel Prize. She graduated from Cornell University with a doctorate degree and was awarded the National Medal of Science, the highest government award for science.
“I have spent many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.” Eleanor Roosevelt
(1884-1962) Eleanor Roosevelt is most well known as former First Lady when her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was President of the United States. She was a humanitarian and civic leader, and her work for the welfare of youth, African-Americans, the poor, and women spanned national and international reach. Even after the death of FDR, she became a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, and in 1948, she wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirmed life, liberty, and equality internationally for all people regardless of race, creed or color. Additionally, she helped establish the state of Israel and attempted negotiations, while cautiously, with the Soviet Union (now Russia).