Maria Goeppert-Mayer

Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1906 - 1972) received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

Maria Goeppert came from a family with a long history of university professors and a family expectation that she would attend university. Although university preparatory classes were not as readily available for young women she was availed herself of opportunities and passed the entrance examinations to enter the University at Göttingen in the Spring 1924. Intending to study mathematics, she became interested in physics and changed to that field; earning a doctorate in theoretical physics in 1930.

In 1930 she came to the USA with her new husband Joseph Edward Mayer. During most the depression years she was not able to find a teaching position at a university however continued her research and learning in various fields of physics. In 1946 they went to Chicago and she became Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago and was a researcher at the Argonne National Laboratory. It was during this time that Dr. Goeppert-Mayer did the work on nuclear shell structure for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1963 with J. Hans D. Jensen and Eugene Paul Wigner.

In 1960 she received an appointment as Professor of Physics at University of California San Diego.

Much of this information is from the Nobel Prize site:


I am indebted to Sharon Presley for sparking my interest in Dr. Goeppert-Mayer by her post in Facebook about her as a series of women in science:


March 24 is Ada Lovelace Day in the blogosphere.

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