Chien-Shiung Wu Scholarship

Established thanks to the generosity of the family of Chien-Shiung Wu, Scholars are selected based on outstanding academic record and promise in the tradition of Chien-Shiung Wu. Chien-Shiung Wu, a member of the Columbia University Physics Department from 1944-1980, was one of the greatest experimental physicists of all time. Her experiments established the properties of the weak interaction. Her most startling achievement was the observation of parity non-conservation in beta decay. She established that there is a fundamental difference between right and left. Her experiments were a large and essential step toward unifying the electromagnetic and weak interactions. She is also credited with the first experiment to document entangled photons. A Scientific American article discusses her experiment in relation to the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics, and is a fascinating review of her life and work.

Dr. Wu was the first female President of APS (1974), received the National Medal of Science (1975), the Inaugural Wolf Prize (1978), the Woman of the Year St Vincent Medal, UNESCO (1981) and 19 honorary Doctorates. In 2021 she was honored with a commemorative U.S. postage stamp with the citation “During a career that spanned more than 40 years in a field dominated by men, she established herself as the authority on conducting precise and accurate research to test fundamental theories of physics.” Dr. Wu is honored appropriately at the entrance to Pupin, where her picture hangs with the 14 Columbia Physics Nobel Prize winners.

Dr. Wu was a powerful advocate for correcting non-equality in the treatment of women in the sciences.  In a speech 60 years ago she said:

“In science and technology we dedicate ourselves to the study of nature, to the understanding of our environment, and incidentally to the betterment of our life, It is the highest form of aspiration as well as satisfaction. It is a fulfillment of human passion. If, in this human society, women are endowed with just as many intellectual capabilities as men, why then should they be deprived of such aspiration and fulfillment?”…The lack of women in science is also a terrible waste of potential talent.”

In a speech at Radcliffe, she said:

“The presence of so few senior women has a profoundly negative influence on the education of both women and men.” 

For more information on the Wu Scholarship, please contact Morgan May at [email protected].

Chien-Shiung Wu Scholars