Fay Ajzenberg-Selove not only made significant contributions to physics, she made huge strides for women by demanding she be judged on her merits, not her gender. Ajzenberg-Selove earned a PhD in physics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1952. The year before, she began a decades-long collaboration with Thomas Lauritsen at CalTech on an annual compilation, Energy Levels of Light Nuclei, which presented the best research in the field and became known as “the nuclear scientists’ bible.” She battled sexism throughout her career, most notably when the University of Pennsylvania denied her tenure in 1972, citing “inadequate research publications.” She lodged complaints with the Federal Equal Opportunity Commission, documenting that in the entire department, the only person whose research was cited more often than hers was a Nobel Laureate, and she became the second-ever tenured woman at the university. Despite these struggles, and a long battle with cancer, Ajzenberg-Selove was praised for both her dedicated teaching and her contributions to nuclear spectrometry of light elements, earning a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1964 and the National Medal of Science in 2007.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Fay Ajzenberg-Selove." (Viewed on January 19, 2017) <https://jwa.org/people/ajzenberg-selove-fay>.