Friday, February 18, 2011: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
102B (Washington Convention Center )Marie Curie was the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes, the first in 1903 in Physics (for codiscovery of radiation phenomena) and the second in 1911 in Chemistry (for discovery of radium and polonium, and the isolation and study of radium’s remarkable properties). Her radiochemical research led her to improve humankind's life through use of portable radiography units that emanated X-rays to examine for shrapnel and broken bones in World War I. Although Curie could have patented her process of isolating radium, she said that the process belongs to the people, and she wanted the research to proceed unhindered. Isolation of radium was such an arduous task that Curie even traveled from her laboratory in France to the United States, in a quest for funds. Curie not only led a rigorous and demanding research life with her husband, Pierre Curie, at her side but also was a wife and a mother of two daughters, one of whom later received a Nobel Prize with her husband. Curie was a role model for many women in science. Despite being the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize, she faced prejudice for being a woman and was not elected into the Academy of Sciences in her adopted country, France. In the 21st century, the 2009 Nobel Laureates included five women and five men. The current prize is a reminder that, for almost half a century, no other woman was included in the chemistry prize, despite many worthy achievements.
Penny J. Gilmer, Florida State University
Alan Rocke, Case Western Reserve University