Chien-Shiung Wu is the Third Woman Physicist to Be Honored With a U.S. Commemorative Stamp

Born in a small town near Shanghai, Chien-Shiung Wu attended an all-girls school founded by her father, an engineer, who encouraged her love of science and math. She went on to study physics at a university in Nanjing, and in 1936 moved to the United States to pursue a doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley.

During World War II, Dr. Wu joined the Manhattan Project at Columbia, where researchers were working toward the creation of world’s first atomic bomb. She was instrumental in discovering how to enrich uranium to produce large quantities of fuels, and her experiments improved the ability of Geiger counters to detect radiation.

After the war, Wu accepted a position at Columbia, where she would remain until her retirement in 1980. She was named an associate professor in 1952, full professor in 1958, and the first Pupin Professor of Physics in 1973.

Dr. Wu was the first female president of the American Physical Society, the first woman hired to a tenure-track position in the physics department at Columbia University, and the first living scientist to have an asteroid named in her honor.

The United States Postal Service has now issued a stamp to honor Dr. Wu. She is the first Chinese American physicist, and third female physicist to be honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a commemorative postage stamp.

“Chien-Shiung Wu was one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century,” said William Gicker Jr., director of stamp services at the United States Postal Service. “During a career that spanned 40 years in a field dominated by men, she established herself as an authority in the physical sciences and made enormous contributions to the field of nuclear physics, altering modern physical theory forever.”

Dr. Wu died in 1997 at the age of 84.

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