Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu’s impressive career earned her the nickname the “First Lady of Physics.” Born in China, Dr. Wu came to the United States in the late 1930s to study physics at UC Berkeley, where she finished her PhD in under 4 years.
The next year, while teaching at Smith College and Princeton, Dr. Wu continued research on nuclear fission and was eventually asked to join the prestigious group of scientists working on the Manhattan Project at Columbia University. Her contributions to the project were invaluable. Today, we celebrate her legacy.
Read more about Dr. Wu and her many achievements on the National Women’s History Museum site.
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu was born on May 31, 1912 in Liu Ho, China. Wu’s parents enrolled her in a school that they had started, which only went through the fourth grade. In 1922, Wu went to boarding school in Suzhou and graduated at the top of her class in 1930. She graduated from the prestigious National Central University of Nanking in 1936, and after graduation she traveled to the United States to pursue graduate studies. She enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley where she studied physics and received her Ph.D. in 1940. Two years later, she married Luke Yuan, a Chinese physicist and former classmate from U.C. Berkeley. The coupled moved to the east coast, where Yuan taught at Princeton University in New Jersey and Wu split her teaching duties between Princeton University and Smith College in Massachusetts.
During World War II, Wu was asked to join the Manhattan Project at Columbia University, which was the Army’s secret project to develop the atomic bomb. She helped develop a process to enrich uranium ore that produced large quantities of uranium as fuel for the bomb.
October 11th is Ada Lovelace Day! Today the world celebrates all of the accomplishments of women in science, art, design, technology, engineering, and math. Each year, Adafruit highlights a number of women who are pioneering their fields and inspiring women of all ages to make their voices heard. Today we will be sharing the stories of women that we think are modern day “Adas” alongside historical women that have made impacts in science and math.
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