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Series: STEM Nobel Laureates

The STEM Nobel Laureates series highlights women that have won Noble Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology and Medicine, or Economic Sciences. The Nobel Prize is a set of international awards that recognize significant academic, cultural, or scientific advances. The Nobel Prize is considered the most prestigious reward in any field.

In the past, 53 women have won a Nobel Peace prize, with 21 of the women winning in STEM fields. This series highlights these 21 women, recounting the woman’s background, accomplishments, and notable quotes.

Let us start this series with one of the most notable women in STEM of all time. The first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person (any gender) to win the Nobel Prize twice, and one of the four individuals in history to win a Nobel Prize in two different fields: Marie Skłodowska Curie

Curie was born on November 7, 1867, in Warsaw, Poland, during a period of political unrest. Being the youngest of five and due to the early death of her mother, Curie faced great personal difficulties in her early life. However, with her indomitable spirit and an opportunity from her sister, Curie was able to attend Sorbonne University in Paris to study Physics and Mathematics.

Through her studies at Sorbonne, Curie was able to work with the notable physicist named Gabriel Lippmann, further motivating her to pursue her studies and delve into the realm of research. Curie maintained her voracious appetite for knowledge, burning the midnight oil to work, write, and study.

Curie first met Pierre Curie, her future husband, in 1894. At the time, Pierre was a physics professor and was researching radioactivity following the discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in the late 1800s. Eventually, they married in 1895.

Both Marie and Pierre Curie worked to expand the field of radioactivity by searching for new radioactive elements in a mineral called pitchblende. They found that although pitchblende had a uranium ore, there was much more radioactivity in pitchblende than the pure element uranium. The higher radioactivity in pitchblende suggested that at least one or more radioactive materials within pitchb