Marie Curie Nobel Centennial Celebration of Women in Science

Yale University is hosting a three-day conference, November 6, 7 and 8, highlighting the impact of women scientists historically and addressing the scientific challenges for the 21st Century. The event marks the centennial of the first award of the Nobel Prize to Marie Curie.

President Richard C. Levin will provide introductory remarks for “Frontiers in Chemistry, Astrophysics and Biology,” at 2 p.m on Friday, November 7. Three of the most distinguished women scientists in the world, working in the areas of Marie Curie’s own work, will present their scientific research for a general audience.

The talks by Jacqueline Barton, a chemist from the California Institute of Technology; Vera Rubin, an astrophysicist from the Carnegie Institute; and Joan Steitz, a biologist from Yale University’s Department of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, will highlight current groundbreaking work in their areas. Together, these three scientists epitomize the success and leadership of women in science and society.

The speakers for “Challenges in Science and Technology for the 21st Century” on Saturday are scientists of international renown and the presidents and directors of some of the most prominent scientific organizations and research universities in the United States: Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, Shirley Tilghman, president of Princeton University, and Charles Vest, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They will offer their perspectives on important opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for science and technology, including the role of women in these fields. The sessions will encourage an exchange of ideas among the participants and the audience.

“Marie Curie’s discoveries opened a universe of new scientific experimentation and her career has served as a powerful model for women scientists,”said Susan Hockfield, Provost and Moderator of the Challenges panel. “Our celebration of the centenary of Marie Curie’s first Nobel Prize recognizes the extraordinary progress in the fields to which she contributed, as well as the growing participation of women in the physical and biological sciences.”

This symposium emphasizes and celebrates the accomplishments of Marie Curie, the woman, as well as the scientist. The program draws on resources and departments from across the university, across the country and across the world. Event venues on the Yale campus include the Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University Law School, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library.

Marie Curie and the others spotlighted by the symposium demonstrate that for women who embark on scientific careers, stunning success is possible. On Thursday, November 6, the success and diversity of Marie Curie’s life is spotlighted in “Intellectual Journeys of Marie Curie,” while “The Other Side of Science” presents the unique challenges of other prominent women scientists of the 20th century.

Following the panel on Thursday evening at 9:00 p.m., the original 1943 film “Marie Curie,” starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon, will be screened in the Whitney Humanities Center.

A segment on Friday, November 7 is devoted to exceptional high school students and their teachers. It includes a historical perspective, a tour of the Curie exhibit in the medical library, and is followed by a discussion of career choices with a panel that includes women in public health, astronomy, materials design, computer science and chemistry.

“Yale has made enormous strides insuring that its senior faculty has extraordinary women of science, so it is fitting that Yale is hosting this conference,” says Alanna Schepartz, professor of chemistry, and an organizer and session moderator of the event for students.

Funding for the conference was from The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc., and The Dibner Fund.

The program is free and open to the public. A full listing of events is posted on the web at:

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