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Hanukkah Sameach!

To celebrate the holiday, we are highlighting three incredible Jewish scientists for our STEM Spotlight. 

Barbara Liskov, Computer Scientist

Vera Rubin, Astronomer

Lise Meitner, Physicist

Grab a plate of latkes and read on.


Barbara Liskov, Computer Scientist


Dr. Liskov is currently an Institute Professor and head of the Programming Methodology Group at MIT's Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab. She earned a BA in Mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley and later attended Stanford University, becoming the first woman in the US to earn a PhD in Computer Science. She has received many awards and accolades so far, including the 2008 A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Dr. Liskov has been a full professor at MIT since 1980.

She is married to Nathan Liskov and they have one child. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree; Dr. Liskov's son also has a PhD in Computer Science and is a professor at the College of William and Mary. 

For more information, including the details of her 2008 ACM A.M. Turing Award, check out this page.

Vera Rubin, Astronomer

Dr. Vera Rubin was an astronomer known for her research into dark matter. She received her BS in Astronomy from Vassar College in 1948, and her MS at Cornell University in 1951, after being declined from other schools due to her gender. She continued on to Georgetown University for her doctoral studies, and became a member of the faculty there. This was the first of many positions in her lifelong career. Vera has received many awards, including the National Science Foundation's National Medal of Science in 1993, and has an asteroid named after her (5726 Rubin). Vera passed away in 2016 at the age of 88.

Vera met Robert, her husband, during her time at Cornell. They had four children together, all of whom have a PhD in a STEM field.

For more information, including the details of her 1993 NSF National Medal of Science award, check out this page.

Lise Meitner, Physicist

Dr. Lise Meitner was an Austrian physicist and part of the team that discovered nuclear fission. She was only the second woman to earn a doctorate degree in Physics from the University of Vienna, which she obtained in 1905. She formed a partnership with Otto Hahn, a chemist, shortly after completing her degree, and the two would become longtime collaborators. Lise did obtain several awards and honors later in life, but was most notably snubbed for the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which was awarded to her collaborator, Otto Hahn. Lise passed away in 1968 at the age of 89.

Lise was forced to flee Austria in 1938, and settled in Sweden, where she ultimately obtained citizenship. She was asked to work on the Manhattan Project, but refused to be involved with building a bomb.

For more information, check out her profile from the Atomic Heritage Foundation.



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