Marie Curie (1867-1934)

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Marie Curie standing with her arm on a table in 1898
Marie Curie photographed in c. 1898.

Marie Curie is one of the most influential scientists in history. Credited with the discovery of radium and polonium, she was the first person to receive two Nobel prizes, dedicating years of her life to the study of radioactivity. 

With an insatiable thirst for knowledge, her studies were her passion. Coming from a poor family in Poland, she could not have funded university alone, so she joined her sister in Paris in 1891 to read mathematics and physics at Sorbonne University.

She married fellow physicist Pierre Curie. The pair dedicated years to the study of radioactivity, identifying and isolating both radium and polonium through years of physically demanding work processing minerals. 

Marie Curie with a flask in her hand looking at the camera with her husband Pierre Curie.
Marie Curie and Pierre Curie photographed together in a laboratory in 1903.

In 1903 she and Pierre received the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on radioactivity. After Pierre died in 1906, Marie succeeded him to become the first female Professor at the Sorbonne. Her second Nobel Prize was awarded in 1911, for creating a means of measuring radioactivity. 

A portrait photograph of Marie Curie in c. 1920
Marie Curie in c. 1920.

During the war, Marie developed mobile X-ray units to diagnose and treat wounded soldiers. She received prizes and honorary degrees from universities around the world. Marie died in 1934 from radiation-related illness.

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