Notable Women in the Physical Sciences: A Biographical Dictionary

By Benjamin F. Shearer; Barbara S. Shearer | Go to book overview

VERA E. KISTIAKOWSKY
(1928- )
Physicist
Birth September 9, 1928
1948 A.B., chemistry, magna cum laude, Mt. Holyoke College;
Phi Beta Kappa
1952 Ph.D., chemistry, University of California, Berkeley
1957-59 Instructor in Physics, Columbia University
1959-62 Assistant Professor of Physics, Brandeis University
1963-69 Staff Member, Laboratory for Nuclear Science,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
1969-72 Senior Research Scientist, Dept. of Physics, MIT
1972 Centennial Alumnae Award, Mt. Holyoke College
1972- Professor of Physics, MIT
1983-84 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar
1983- Director, Council for a Liveable World
1984 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of
Science
1990-92 Sigma XI Visiting Lecturer

Vera Kistiakowsky, Ph.D., is a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When she was young, her father advised her to plan a career that would allow her to support herself and not to depend on someone else to support her. This was very unusual advice for a father to give a girl who had been born in 1928 in Princeton, New Jersey. But Vera's lifetime of accomplish- ments make it clear that this advice made a significant impact on her as research physicist, activist, and mother. She also experienced several major events that stirred her to take a stand rather than just be an observer. These included the return of World War II veterans to the labor market, the advent of affirmative action programs, the women's movement, and the arms race. Her experiences growing up in a very supportive environment, especially her close relationship with her father, prepared her well for her masterful balance of a career in physics research, a conscience that stirred her to action, and motherhood. 1

Vera did not live an ordinary life for a middle-class girl during her

-228-

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