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Phi Beta Kappa

Remembering Dr. Rosalyn S. Yalow, Nobel Prize winning scientist and mother

“A Jewish woman whose father-in-law is a rabbi, who keeps a kosher home, who invites her lab assistants to Passover seders, and worries about them catching colds is not the typical image of a Nobel Prize winner,” Emily Taitz writes in Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. “But it is the image of Rosalyn Yalow, the first woman born and educated in the United States to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field.” Rosalyn S. Yalow passed away Monday, May 30, 2011, at the age of 89.

Gertrude Elion wins Nobel Prize

October 17, 1988

The announcement that chemist Gertrude Elion had won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine represented the culmination of an unlikely career.

Rosalyn Yalow

Rosalyn Yalow had two strikes against her in her effort to become a physicist: She was a Jew and a woman. She persevered, and not only earned a career in science and many awards—including a Nobel Prize—but changed the medical world with the introduction of radioimmunoassay.

Gladys Heldman

Gladys Heldman, born in New York City on May 13, 1922, to scholarly Jewish parents, was an unlikely person to become a leader in women’s tennis. Yet women tennis players today owe their equal status in the sport to her important efforts.

Jane Harman

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Smith College in 1966, Jane Harman graduated from Harvard Law School in 1969 and became a member of the bar in the District of Columbia. She has two children, Brian Frank and Hilary Frank, from her nine-year first marriage to Richard Frank. She also has two younger children, Daniel Geier Harman and Justine Leigh Harman, with her husband Sidney Harman, an audio equipment manufacturer, whom she married in 1980.

Esther Leah Medalie Ritz

A civic leader par excellence, Esther Leah Ritz directed and supported numerous local, national and international organizations and causes, ranging from the Milwaukee Jewish Federation to the Democratic Party to Middle East peace efforts, and including hundreds of programs to protect the rights of the disenfranchised.

Ida Klaus

Known by the press in the 1950s and 1960s as the woman “who thinks with a man’s brain,” Ida Klaus has distinguished herself in the area of labor law.

Francine Klagsbrun

Author of more than a dozen books and countless articles in national publications, and a regular columnist in two Jewish publications, Francine Klagsbrun is a writer of protean interests. She has succeeded in making an impact on both American and American Jewish culture.

Ilona Karmel

Ilona Karmel transformed details of her experiences as a Polish-Jewish prisoner in Nazi work camps and as a patient undergoing a prolonged convalescence into two compelling and memorable novels.

Clarisse Doris Hellman

Clarisse Doris Hellman was born on August 28, 1910, in New York City. The daughter of obstetrician Alfred M. and Clarisse (Bloom) Hellman, she was raised in a family that had a special appreciation for the sciences. After graduating from the Horace Mann School, she attended Vassar College, where she studied mathematics and astronomy with such distinction that she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated with honors in 1930. She then went on to Radcliffe College as a Vassar College Fellow and received one of the country’s earliest advanced degrees in history of science, a master’s degree, in 1931. From Radcliffe, she returned to New York, where she received a prestigious Columbia University Fellowship and went on to complete her Ph.D. at Columbia in 1943.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Phi Beta Kappa." (Viewed on December 19, 2014) <http://jwa.org/tags/phi-beta-kappa>.

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