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Marie Curie is the only woman, along with Louise Michel, to have a metro station named after her. She is also the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first scientist to win two – in the fields of physics and chemistry.
Marie Sklodowska, born in Warsaw in 1867, dreamt of becoming a scientist at a time when women were still barred from obtaining a high school diploma. She made this dream come true, however, in Paris. Paris, where she enrolled at the Sorbonne and met Pierre Curie, her professor at the time. They married in 1895 and together studied radioactivity. In 1903, she became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in physics, which she shared with her husband and another physicist Henri Becquerel.
Pierre obtained a physics chair at the Sorbonne, and was admitted to the Académie des Sciences, but died in an accident in 1906. Marie took his place, becoming the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne. Alone with her two daughters Irène and Eve, she continued her research and won the 1911 Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work on radium, making her the first scientist to win two Nobel Prizes!
Marie and Pierre’s work led them to observe that radium burned skin tissue, a discovery which paved the way to the ‘curietherapy’ method of treating cancer. Due to her prolonged exposure to radioactivity, however, Marie herself died of leukemia in July 1934. Her daughter Irène, together with Irène’s husband Frédéric Joliot, continued her work on artificial radioactivity, for which they too won a Nobel Prize.
In 1995, Pierre and Marie Curie’s remains were interred at the Panthéon, where they rest alongside Emile Zola, Victor Hugo, Jean Jaurès, Alexandre Dumas and Gambetta. A bank note was also printed in their honor.