Woman Physicist Honored on a Postage Stamp

Maria Goeppert Mayer, one of only two women to win the Nobel Prize in physics, will be honored with a stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

Dr. Mayer was born in 1906 in Kattowitz, Upper Silesia, which is now part of Poland. Her father was the seventh straight generation of his family to become a university professor.

In 1930 Mayer earned a Ph.D. in theoretical physics at Göttingen University. She then came to the United States with her husband who was appointed to the faculty at Johns Hopkins University. During the Depression years, Maria Goeppert Mayer found it impossible for a woman physicist to win a faculty appointment. Only after World War II was she able to land a meaningful position at the Argonne National Laboratory of the University of Chicago.

In 1960 she joined the physics department at the University of California at San Diego. Three years later, she shared the Nobel Prize in physics for her work on a model of the atomic nucleus. Marie Curie was the only other women to win the Nobel Prize in physics.

Dr. Mayer died in 1972. Her papers are housed in the special collections library of the University of California at San Diego.

Filed Under: Awards


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