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A Year for Recognizing Achievements by Women in Science

A Year for Recognizing Achievements by Women in Science

We in the sciences love our milestones. We see occasions for celebration in the 50th anniversary of Moore's Law, the 100th anniversary of the Theory of General Relativity, and the centennial commemoration of the first Longhorn getting a science Ph.D. at UT Austin. In that spirit, we find a whole host of reasons in 2017 to recognize and honor a growing segment of the world's scientific leaders—women.

The contributions of women scientists, on and off the Forty Acres, date back centuries, and we will take time to celebrate some of them on social media and events throughout 2017, recognizing scientists' notable milestones.

January 1, 2017 marks 25 years since the death of computer scientist Grace Hopper.

And that begins on day one. This New Year's Day is the 25th anniversary of the passing of pioneering computer scientist and mathematician Grace Hopper, who left an indelible mark through her work developing programming languages, new software concepts and novel approaches to data processing.

It so happens that 17 is the number of women who have been awarded Nobel Prizes for science in Chemistry, Physics and Medicine/Physiology. 

It is also the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of them, Marie Curie, the first person to be awarded two Nobel Prizes and the only person ever to win the award in two different areas of science. And it is the 120th anniversary of the birth of her daughter, herself a chemistry Nobel Prize winner, Irene Jolie-Curie.

Other Nobel laureates in the sciences have milestone years, too. It is the 115th anniversary of groundbreaking genetic researcher Barbara McClintock's birth and the 70th anniversary of the first award given to an American woman in the sciences, biochemist Gerty Cori.

We also celebrate the contributions of women in math and technology. 2017 is the 165th anniversary of the death of Ada Lovelace, considered a co-founder of computer science for writing what's believed to be the first algorithm executed on a machine. It's the 135th anniversary of Emmy Noether's birth, a legend described in the early 20th century as "the most important woman in the history of mathematics" for having developed abstract algebra.

NASA's Katherine Johnson is one of three mathematicians profiled in the new film "Hidden Figures."


And this year opens with the story of three remarkable NASA space scientists in theaters. Watch this season's awards shows for Hidden Figures, which tells how Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three African-American mathematicians and physicists, propelled some of NASA's greatest achievements.

Closer to home, we'll celebrate the 50th anniversary of UT Austin awarding a Ph.D. in astronomy to acclaimed researcher Beatrice Tinsley, whose "work in cosmology and astrophysics made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the universe and the way galaxies behave within it." It will be the 90th anniversary of when UT Austin established its child development laboratory school, under the leadership of Mary Gearing, the University's first woman department chair. 

Most excitingly we'll have occasions to celebrate some living legends from our faculty and alumni communities, as well as inspiring students who are getting a head start on our University credo that what starts here changes the world.

We wish you a joyful 2017 and hope you'll join us throughout the year as we celebrate the women scientists who have shaped our world.


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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

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