Marie Curie

Posted by Hannah Ramos on

1867 - 1924

Marie was born in Warsaw, in what was then the Kingdom of Poland – Part of the Russian Empire. She began her studies in Warsaw but then followed her sister to Paris in 1891. While there she earnt 2 degrees, studying physics, chemistry and mathematics. Marie met her husband, Pierre, through her studies. Together they discovered two elements, now known as Polonium and Radium.

1903 was a big year for Marie, she was awarded a doctorate and she became the first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize -in physics for her work in radiotherapy. That same year her and her husband were invited to speak at the Royal Institution in London, though being a woman, she was not allowed to speak, her husband alone did the talking.

In 1906 her husband was killed instantly when he was struck by a horse and carriage. Marie filled her late husbands position as the Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences, becoming the first female professor at the University of Paris.  

In 1911 she won her second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry for her work in radioactivity.

Marie was not only the first woman to be awarded a Nobel prize but is still the only woman to be awarded the prize twice, and to this day remains the only person to ever win the Nobel prize in two separate scientific fields. Her daughter and son in law went on to share a Nobel prize in chemistry in 1935. Giving the Curie family a total of 5 Nobel prizes. She also mentored 2 others who went on to win a Nobel prize each.

During world war 1, Marie noted a need for in field radiology. She became the director of the Red Cross radiology service, developed mobile radiography units and set up Frances first military radiology service. This saw the development of 20 mobile radiography vehicles and 200 radiograph units across field hospitals. The French government gave Marie no official recognition of her contributions.

Marie made a lot of headlines and was at the centre of many controversies. She was distrusted by the public for being a woman in science, and also for being of Polish nationality.

In 1935, at the age of 66, Marie passed from aplastic anaemia, believed to be from chronic radiation exposure. In 1995 she became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon, Paris.

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