renate chasman

Renate Chasman was probably thinking about new ways to revolutionize particle accelerators when this photo was taken.

She was only in her early 40s when she and her collaborator, Ken Green, changed the way science in their field was done. Their ingenious Chasman-Green lattice manipulated accelerated electrons to produce the brightest x-rays ever created up to that time.  Completed in the 1970s, their design was first used at Brookhaven’s National Synchrotron Light Source, and then went on to be incorporated into future synchrotron light source facilities all around the world.

Chasman was one of the few female accelerator physicists of her time, and she has an interesting story. She was born in Berlin in 1932 and moved with her family to Holland and then Sweden after the Nazis came to power. As a child in Sweden, she would sometimes travel the three miles to school on skis. She studied nuclear physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, then went on to work at Columbia University and Yale University, and finally she came to Brookhaven National Lab, where she found an interest in accelerator technology and ultimately revolutionized the field.

Just a few years after her profound contribution to science, this renowned physicist passed away in 1977 at the tragically young age of 45, but her legacy of innovation continues here at the Lab. Brookhaven Women in Science offers a scholarship in Chasman’s name that has promoted the advancement of women in scientific and technical careers for 27 years.