First Ladies of a Different Kind

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Photos of the Month - March 2019

Audrey Lengel, Photo Archivist

A baby’s first step. A student’s first-ever physics course. The first African American woman to earn a PhD in Physics. This first-of-its-kind peer-review. The first March for Science. Whether personal, professional, or institutional, firsts are meaningful in a variety of ways. A first can be a vital initial move towards a systematic change. A first is often hard-fought and takes time, energy, and care to navigate. A first is a signifier to the world that something is possible, and an encouragement for more of the same.

Last month, one of our featured photos was of meteorologist Joanne Simpson, who served as the first female president of the American Meteorological Society in 1989. Our professional organizations and societies are reflections of our participation in a specific field, and the people who serve as leaders of these organizations help to set policies and make decisions that affect our fields. This month, we’re featuring more photos than usual, to highlight the ten scientists who were the first women to be the presidents of AIP’s ten member societies. These ten women were trailblazers both in their organizations and in physics history.

Jean M. Bennett served as The Optical Society (OSA) President in 1986.

Credit line: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

E. Margaret Burbidge served as the American Astronomical Society (AAS) President from 1976 through 1978.

Credit line: UCSD photo, courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Dorothy M. Hoffman served as the AVS (American Vacuum Society) President in 1974.

Credit line: American Vacuum Society (AVS), courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Patricia Kuhl served as the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) President in 1999.

Credit line: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, AIP Gallery of Member Society Presidents

Susan J. Muller served as The Society of Rheology (SOR) President from 2003 through 2005.

Credit line: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, AIP Gallery of Member Society Presidents

Melba Phillips served as the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) President from 1966 through 1967.

Credit line: Maurice L. Lehv Photographers, courtesy of AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Gift of Ernest W. Kuehl, Jr.

Joanne Simpson served as the American Meteorological Society (AMS) President in 1989.

Credit line: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Elizabeth Wood served as the American Crystallographic Association (ACA) President in 1957.

Credit line: Photograph by Bradford Bachrach, courtesy of AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Ann E. Wright served as the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) President in 1982.

Credit line: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, AIP Gallery of Member Society Presidents

Chien-Shiung Wu served as the American Physical Society (APS) President in 1975.

Credit line: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection