Categories: Nobel Laureates of the 20th Century | Physicists | Manhattan Project | University of Göttingen | University of Chicago | Johns Hopkins University | University of California, San Diego | German Immigrants to America | Notables.
Maria Goeppert-Mayer was born on Jun 28, 1906 in Kattowitz, German Empire (now Katowice, Poland). She was known for proposing the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus. She is the second and last woman to become a Nobel Laureate for physics, after Marie Salomea (Skłodowska) Curie. She died on Feb 20, 1972 in San Diego, California.
Father: Friedrich Goeppert
Mother: Maria Wolff
Spouse: Joseph Edward Mayer
She studied under multiple Nobel laureates, including Max Born, at the University of Göttingen in Germany and in 1930 earned a doctorate in theoretical physics. She moved to Johns Hopkins University as a volunteer associate and then to Columbia University, where she worked on separating uranium-235 from natural uranium as part of efforts toward an atomic bomb. In 1946 Mayer moved to Chicago and started working at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.
Marie Mayer, Hans Jensen, and Eugene Wigner shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics. Despite her accomplishments, Mayer did not receive a full-time faculty appointment until 1960, at the University of California at San Diego. She suffered a stroke shortly afterward but kept teaching and working on the shell model until her death in 1972 at age 65.
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