Famous Women in Mathematics

April 29, 2009


There is a very special relationship between one of my math professors this semester and a student in the class. The professor has said several times during the semester: “I need to find out about some female mathematicians”, usually after comments like: “…and that math book was written by a man, right?”  They have inspired me to do a little bit of research about famous women in mathematics to arm my professor with much needed information to respond to the student before this semester is over!

Hopefully this information will be useful to others to encourage young girls to pursue a career in mathematics or related fields.

I found three websites with lists of famous women mathematicians. Some of the links in the websites link you to biographical databases in other websites.  The three websites are: Biographies of Women in Mathematics, Famous Mathematicians from Underrepresented Groups, and Female Mathematicians. I checked all the mathematicians that were in more than one of the three lists and here are the ones I picked:




c.16 Century B.C

Wife of Pythagoras. Ran School of Pythagoras after his death. Wrote works on the Golden Ratio.



Made idea of conics easier to understand.

Florence Nightingale

May 12, 1820 – August 13, 1910

Called: Prophetess of Applied Statistics

Invented Polar Area Chart in the form of polar wedges to dramatize the needless deaths caused by unsanitary conditions and the need for reform.

Winifred Edgerton Merrill

September 24, 1862 – September 6, 1951

First American woman to receive a PhD in math.

Worked on the geometrical interpretation of multiple integrals and figure out the computation of the orbit of a comet.

Maria Gaetana Agnesi

May 16, 1718 – January 9, 1799

“By far the most important and extraordinary figure in mathematics during the 18th century.”

Most important work: Analytical Institutions gave a clear summary of the state of knowledge in mathematical analysis. It included: analysis of finite quantities; elementary problems of maxima, minima, tangents, and inflection points; analysis of infinitely small quantities; integral calculus; and the inverse method of tangents and differential equations.

Grace Chisholm Young

March 15, 1868 – March 29, 1944

Worked with her husband on set theory. Authored 13 publications with her husband and 18 by herself.

Bruckner and Thomson wrote that “The whole field of what was then called ‘the theory of functions of a real variable’ was reworked and rewritten in those first decades [of the 20th century]. The Youngs played a major role in that effort.”

Edith Clarke

February 10, 1883 – October 29, 1959

Achievements in applications of mathematics to engineering.

She became an authority on the manipulation of hyperbolic functions, equivalent circuits, and graphical analysis.

Irmgard Flugge-Lotz

July 16, 1903 – May 22, 1974

Professor Flugge-Lotz acted in a central role in the development of the aircraft industry in the Western world. Her contributions spanned a lifetime during which she demonstrated, in a field dominated by men, the value and quality of a woman’s intuitive approach in searching for and discovering solutions to complex engineering problems.

Ellen Amanda Hayes

September 23, 1851 – October 27, 1930

Hayes wrote several textbooks on Lessons on Higher Algebra (1891, revised 1894), Elementary Trigonometry (1896), and Calculus with Applications, An Introduction to the Mathematical Treatment of Science (1900).

Edna Kramer Lassar

May 11, 1902 – July 9, 1984

Kramer’s greatest work is considered the book, The Nature and Growth of Modern Mathematics, which was published in 1970. This work took her 14 years to complete. In 1972 she was elected into the Hall of Fame at Hunter College. Her many books still are read and studied today, including A First Course in Educational Statistics, Mathematics Takes Wings: An Aviation Supplement to Secondary Mathematics, and The Main Stream of Mathematics.

Rózsa Péter

February 17, 1905 – February 16, 1977

Péter was the author of Playing with Infinity: Mathematical Explorations and Excursions, translated into at least 14 languages, and Recursive Functions in Computer Theory. The latter was the second Hungarian mathematical book to be published in the Soviet Union because its subject matter was considered indispensable to the theory of computers.

Helena Rasiowa

June 20, 1917 – August 9, 1994

Helena Rasiowa greatly contributed to the development of research in Poland on applications of logical methods in the foundations of computer science. She was one of the first to realize the great importance of mathematical logic for computer science – and at the same time she clearly saw the significance of computer science for the development of logic itself.

Argelia Velez-Rodriguez


Cuban Black Woman: First Black woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics at the University of Habana. She taught in several American schools before joining the mathematics faculty at Bishop College in Dallas, Texas, where she was chairperson of the Department of Mathematical Science from 1975 to 1978. In 1979 she became a program manager with the Minority Institutions Science Improvement Program in Washington, D.C. Since 1980 she has been a program director for the Department of Education.

As the author of Famous Mathematicians from Underrepresented Groups said: “… until recently, women were mostly prevented from doing mathematics, so relatively few women have become famous in mathematics.” Therefore, now that women are able to study mathematics, we must inspire, encourage and help girls become interested in mathematics at an early age and help them pursue careers in math or related fields.

Changing Old Fryer Oil to Biodiesel Fuel @ Nazareth College

April 22, 2009

Today is Earth day. We want to recognize Nazareth College of Rochester for their environmental efforts or green initiatives.

This year, Nazareth College acquired the BioPro 190 as part of their efforts to help the environment. There are 18 colleges in the US using this machine. The BioPro 190 changes the frying oil used in the college’s cafeterias  to biodiesel fuel. The fuel is then used to run the diesel vehicles and lawn mowers on campus. Nazareth College is the only college in the region that is making their own biodiesel fuel.

As Bob Sanderson, Nazareth Grounds Manager, said: “It’s really not about economy for Nazareth College. It’s about ecology.”

I hope this inspires other local and national colleges and universities to follow on Nazareth’s footsteps!

PS: I just hope it doesn’t smell like french fries when they’re driving the cars or lawn mowers or they’re going to want to run to the cafeteria to get some as it happened to me while doing this post! 🙂

Imagine RIT Festival

April 17, 2009


This is the second year of  the Imagine RIT Festival which includes displays of art and science, sometimes combined.  It will have more than 400 exhibits.  It also includes food and entertainment for children and adults.  It’s going to be fun, entertaining and educational. What more do you need?

Location: RIT campus, Henrietta, NY

Day: May 2

Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


I plan on attending and may post some pictures on this blog afterward.  Make plans with your family and make sure you don’t miss this festival!

For more information or to see pictures of last year’s Imagine RIT Festival go to: Imagine RIT

Fuel Our Future Now

April 14, 2009


The X Prize Foundation,  the U.S. Department of Energy, and Discovery Education have joined forces to create an online knowledge center entitled, FuelOurFutureNow.com.

This site serves as a hub and is designed to spark student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Upon visiting the site, visitors can select their grade level, and browse resources designed specifically for students and teachers.

Videos, virtual labs, interactives, and puzzles illustrate complex ideas such as  motion, chemical energy, speed, and wheel mechanics in clear and understandable terms.

Visit the site today, and let us know what learning activities you find most useful.

Darling, Dowdle, and Wright working together at Bloomfield High School

April 10, 2009
Bloomfield High School Fitness Room

Bloomfield High School Fitness Room

At the 2008 RAC-CEMS Collaboration Event, a three-teacher team was recognized for their Excellence in STEM Teaching. Ed Darling, Mike Dowdle, and John Wright have synthesized a unique Integrated Physics-Biology-Technology learning experience for high school seniors.

The focus of the study: the school’s fitness center. The parameters for the activity are that students must develop a research question for study, develop a plan for data collection and analysis, and plan with their group how to best work together to complete the tasks.

The students presented their projects in the form of their own “Mythbusters” video episodes, to show they had applied what they had learned in class to solve a real world problem. According to Ed Darling, an eye opening experience was, “Watching students who in class often are only minimally engaged in traditional learning activities take on leadership roles when given a learning opportunity that matched their preferred style”.

Each team was comprised of three students; one specalizing in each subject matter. The team of teachers was supported by their administration who allowed them to alter the schedules of the students for the day in order to complete the project.

Thank you Mr. Darling, Mr. Dowdle, and Mr. Wright for your commitment to excellence in STEM teaching, and sharing your project with the community!


April 7, 2009


GIS stands for Geographic Information Sharing; SIG stands for Special Interest Group…

This educational group’s primary mission is to foster the understanding of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology.

The group is gearing up for their 18th Annual Spatial/Digital Mapping Conference;  a professional forum in the Rochester – Genesee Finger Lakes region for GIS education, data sharing, communication and networking with other local, state and national users.

The morning keynote speaker, Geoff Zeiss is the Director of Autodesk Geospatial Technology. His presentation, entitled: “The Convergence of BIM, CAD, GIS, and 3D Simulation: Implications for Government” will explore new technologies that provide a seamless view of buildings and infrastructure. 

The afternoon keynote address will be co-presented by Jonathan Cobb of Waypoint Technology Group, LLC, and Austin Fisher, Vice President of Fountains Spatial, Inc. They will be presenting “Geospatial Mercenaries: The Balkans and Beyond“.

Check out the GIS/SIG website for more information on this exciting event!