Heising-Simons Foundation to Support Lectures by Women in Physics

October 14, 2019

The Heising-Simons Foundation has granted $300,000 for an endowment to support the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Lecture Series at the University of Chicago. The annual lectures are given by outstanding women physicists in honor of Maria Goeppert-Mayer, who won the 1963 Nobel Prize in physics for developing the nuclear shell model while at UChicago and Argonne National Laboratory.

"The Maria Goeppert-Mayer Lectures recognize the significant contributions of women in physics and help our students see that they have a future as researchers and academics," said Young-Kee Kim, chair of the Department of Physics at UChicago. "We are grateful to the Heising-Simons Foundation for helping us promote diversity and inclusion in the field."

2018 Maria Goeppert-Mayer Lecture featuring theoretical physicist Helen Quinn

The Maria Goeppert-Mayer lectures began in 2017 with guest lecturer, Melissa Franklin, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University, who co-discovered the top quark and the Higgs boson. Last year, the series featured SLAC's Helen Quinn, former chair of the National Academy of Sciences' Board of Education, who led the effort that produced A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. This year's speaker will be 2018 Nobel laureate, Donna Strickland, whose work in chirped pulse amplification paved the way for the intense lasers used in eye surgery and the machining of small glass parts in cell phones.

As part of its effort to increase the number of women in physics and astronomy, the Heising-Simons Foundation supports named lecture series like the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Lecture Series, as well as other innovative and scalable initiatives to promote a more inclusive and diverse physics and astronomy braintrust in the United States. At the University of Chicago, the foundation has also supported workshops and internships aimed at undergraduate women in physics, building a strong foundation for their continued pursuit of the male-dominated subject.

"Women make up only 10 percent of tenured physics professors in the United States, " said Cyndi Atherton, director of the foundation’s Science program. "We are excited to support projects like the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Lecture Series at the University of Chicago, which help us build a more inclusive and innovative future.”

The 2019 Maria Goeppert-Mayer Lecture will be on October 24 from 3:30-4:30 PM in the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Lecture Hall (5720 S. Ellis Ave). The event is free and open to the public.