WiP+ Info

Did you Know?

  • In 1895, Carolyn Baldwin Morrison, was awarded the first Doctor of Science degree in the United States by Cornell University for her work in Physics.
  • Kate Gleason was the first woman to study mechanical engineering (at Cornell – check)
  • ~1910 Frances G. Wick is the first women to earn a PhD in physics from Cornell.  She went on to teach physics at Vassar and several of her female students went on to do graduate work at Cornell.  During the 1918-1919 year she took a leave of absence of absence for war time emergency during which time she was an “Acting Assistant Professor” at Cornell.
  • 1944 Jane Faggen is the first women hired as a teaching assistant for the physics department.  She becomes part of a group of physics graduate students that “successfully persuaded the University to remove questions of race and religion from our application first – the first Ivy League institution to do so.
  • Susan Phelps was the first woman in the world to receive laboratory instruction in physics (here at Cornell).  She later went on to biology.  The Gage fund for “unspecified costs in advancing knowledge in phyiscs” was created in her memory by her husband Simon Henry Gage and son Henry Phelps.
  • Marth Stahr Carpenter
    The first woman faculty member to be hired in College of Arts and Sciences was Martha Stahr Carpenter in 1947 as a radio astronomer in the Astronomy department. She later shifted into a research associate position when starting her family.




  • Vera Rubin
    1951 Vera Rubin earned her Master's degree in Astronomy from Cornell.  Famous for her work confirming the existence of dark matter, Vera was also the first woman to legally use the Palomar Observatory in 1965.




  • Mildred Dresselhous
    Millie (Spiewack) Dresselhous spends time as a postdoc at Cornell (1958-1960) before going on to become the first female tenured professor at MIT (1968) and the first president of the American Physical Society (1984). She was also the winner of many awards including National Medal of Science, the Oersted Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Enrico Fermi Award, and the Kavli Prize. In 2015, she became the first female to receive the IEEE Medal of Honor.  In 2017 she was featured in this GE add promoting women in STEM



  • 1983 Barbara Cooper, a former Cornell physics undergrad, was hired as the first women in a tenure track position in the physics department.




    Ritchie Patterson
    Ritchie Patterson was the first women to serve a chair of the Physics Department from 2009-2011.





  • Lois Pollack
    2014 Lois Pollack begins her term as the first female director of Applied and Engineering Physics.


Department contacts: 

WiP+ organizers Equity advocates
  • SPS WiP Liaison (Elizabeth Donoway) and Diversity Liaison (Murali Saravanan)

Cornell University Resources:    

Women in Physics Statistics

Good Practices

Funding sources (grant/scholarship info)

Conferences/workshop opportunities


Kiran Bhanganagar



Read more about Cornell alumna and June 2017 Woman Physicist of the Month, Kiran Bhaganagar.