maria goeppert mayer

Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1906-1972) was a German physicist, and the second woman to win the Nobel Prize in physics. She achieved this in 1963 for proposing the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus.

As a child, she attended a special school run by suffragettes to prepare girls for university. After graduating from the University of Göttingen, she moved to USA and became a science teacher and researcher at various universities and colleges. Today, an award in her name is given to promising female physicists.


As the Nobel Prize laureates are revealed for 2013 – its important to look back on the scientific achievements of the laureates awarded in past. Especially those of women. Women need inspirational role models in science fields, so what better place to look than those rewarded the prestigious Nobel Prize. 

The two ladies here are the only two women ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics: Marie Curie and Maria Goeppert-Mayer.

Marie Curie (won the Nobel Prize twice!) is well known for her work on radioactive elements, and the synthesis of new radioactive elements. Originally the prize wasn’t supposed to go to Curie, but only to her male counterparts. But one of the members of the committee was an advocate of females in science.

Maria Goeppert-Mayer was awarded for proposing the idea of the nuclear shell model of the nucleus of an atom. Her and her peers who did research with her are the reason we know how protons and neutrons are arranged in a nucleus. This is a huge basis of many modern chemistry classes.

Thanks to these lovely women for influencing science so positively  and standing as a role model for any aspiring women in STEM.