This Week's Extraordinary Woman: Marie Curie

"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."



Physicist, Chemist (1867-1934)

A top student in her secondary school, Curie could not attend the men-only University of Warsaw. She instead continued her education in Warsaw's "floating university," a set of underground, informal classes held in secret. In 1891, Curie finally made her way to Paris where she enrolled at the Sorbonne in Paris. Curie completed her master's degree in physics in 1893 and earned another degree in mathematics the following year.

Curie's efforts, with her husband Pierre Curie, led to the discovery of polonium and radium and, after Pierre's death, the development of X-rays.

Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, the first person to win the Nobel Prize twice, the only person to win the Nobel Prize twice in multiple sciences and the first female professor at the famed Sorbonne in Paris, one of the first universities in the world.

Curie died on July 4, 1934, of aplastic anemia, which can be caused by prolonged exposure to radiation.

Today several educational and research institutions and medical centers bear the Curie name, including the Institute Curie and the Pierre and Marie Curie University, both in Paris.