Fay Ajzenberg-Selove

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.

More on Fay Ajzenberg-Selove


Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Fay Ajzenberg-Selove, a nuclear physicist who fought discrimination against women.

Institution: Walter Selove

Date of Birth


Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Fay Ajzenberg-Selove." (Viewed on April 15, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/ajzenberg-selove-fay>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox