Biographies & Further Information

  1. Hedy Lamarr – you may know her as a star of the silver screen during Hollywood’s “Golden Age,” she was also a talented and (until recently) unsung inventor. If you’re reading this on a phone one of the people you can thank is Hedy Lamarr! She co-invented “spread spectrum” technology which is part of the backbone of digital communications.  
  2. Maryam Mirzakhani – the first – and so far only – woman to win the prestigious Fields Medal. The award is likened to the Nobel Prize of Mathematics.
  3. Ursula Burns  – A mechanical engineer by education, Burns rose to become CEO of Xerox, making her the first African American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company, and the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company.
  4. Mary Wells Lawrence –  a retired American advertising executive. She was the founding president of Wells Rich Greene, an advertising agency known for its creative, innovative, and revolutionary work. (You can thank her for “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz.”) Lawrence was the first female CEO of a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
  5. Cathleen S. Morawetz – a Canadian mathematician who spent much of her career in the United States. Morawetz’s research was mainly in the study of the partial differential equations governing fluid flow, particularly those of mixed type occurring in transonic flow. (How air moves over a foil to create a boom!) 
  6. Flossie Wong-Staal –  a Chinese-American virologist and molecular biologist. She was the first scientist to clone HIV and determine the function of its genes, a major step in proving that HIV is the cause of AIDS.  In 2007, The Daily Telegraph heralded Dr. Wong-Staal as #32 of the “Top 100 Living Geniuses.”
  7. Patricia Bath – an American ophthalmologist, inventor, and academic. She has broken ground for women and African Americans in a number of areas. Before her, no woman had served on the staff of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, headed a post-graduate training program in ophthalmology, or been elected to the honorary staff of the UCLA Medical Center. Before her, no African-American person had served as a resident in ophthalmology at New York University and no African-American woman had ever served on staff as a surgeon at the UCLA Medical Center. Bath is the first African-American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose.
  8. Lydia Villa-Komaroff – a molecular and cellular biologist who has been an academic laboratory scientist, a university administrator, and a business woman. She was the third Mexican American woman in the United States to receive a doctorate degree in cell biology at MIT. She is a co-founding member of The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. She was part of a team that discovered how bacterial cells could be used to generate insulin.
  9. Mae Carol Jemison – is an American engineer, physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992. After medical school and a brief general practice, Jemison served in the Peace Corps from 1985 until 1987, when she was selected by NASA to join the astronaut corps. She also made a brief appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation!
  10. Jocelyn Bell Burnell –  an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who was credited with “one of the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th Century”. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967. She was President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2002 to 2004, president of the Institute of Physics from October 2008 until October 2010, and was interim president following the death of her successor, Marshall Stoneham, in early 2011.
  11. Malala Yousafzai – as a young girl, she defied the Taliban in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. She was attacked and suffered a gunshot wound to her head by a Taliban gunman in 2012, but survived and went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She leads the Malala Fund (while still being a student herself) an organization focused on helping girls go to school and raise their voices for the right to education. 
  12. Razan al-Najjar – was a volunteer medic, Palestinian fighter for women’s rights, and a human being who made a huge impact on numerous people before she was tragically killed after only 21 all too short years. She died just a couple hundred yards from her home in Khan Younis, close to the fence that separates Gaza from Israel.