Chien-Shiung Wu and the Wonders of Atomic Science

The Chinese Marie-Curie. The nickname given to the outstanding physicist Chien-Shiung Wu. With her contributions to the field of physics and science in general, she indeed deserves the title. Born on May 31, 1912, in the land of China, Chien-Shiung Wu has always been set up to success. Both her parents, the founders of Ming De School for girls, are a strong advocate of gender equality and the power of education.

Chien-Shiung Wu and his father Zhong-Zi Wu, an intellectual and an engineer, have a very strong bond. This may be one of the reasons why Chien-Shiung pursued her education and career in the field of science. In 1929 in Suzhou, she graduated top of her class and then attended the National Central University in Nanking where she earned her bachelor’s degree.

Inspired by the Famous scientist Marie-Curie and her mentor Dr. Jing Wei-Gu, she decided to continue her career in the United States which eventually earned her a Doctorate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. Her journey in the University of California has led Chien-Shiung Wu to meet the leading physicist Ernest Lawrence who advised her to become experimental physicist at Lawrence’s Radiation laboratory.

Scientific Contributions and Achievements

  • In 1944, Chien-Shiung Wu became the only Chinese American physicist to join the Manhattan Project, the top-secret research conducted during World War II to produce the first atomic weapons in the United States.
  • She improved the existing technology for the detection of radiation and enrichment of Uranium in large quantities through her infamous “Wu Experiment," an experiment based on beta-decay of the radioactive atom cobalt-60. Her experiment gave her colleagues the Nobel Prize in 1957 but sadly, her efforts were not recognized.
  •  She became the first woman elected as president of the American Physical Society.
  • In 1978, Chien-Shiung Wu was the first person to win the prestigious Wolf Prize in Physics.
  • Chien-Shiung Wu’s textbook, Beta Decay, published in 1965 is one of the standard references in the field of Nuclear Science.
Throughout Chien-Shiung Wu’s career, she experienced a lot of downfalls. From her work not being recognized up to being a woman in the field of science. But these circumstances have not become a reason for her to give up. She spoke up about discrimination being faced by female scientists and rise above the growing Asian-Hate on the West Coast during her time.

She became an advocate during her later years by helping create a better environment for boys and girls of STEM education. In the year 1997, she died at the age of 85 due to a stroke. Chien-Shiung Wu remains influential and instrumental in the scientific landscape up until today.

Written by: Monina Antonio

Chien-Shiung Wu | Atomic Heritage Foundation
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu | National Women's History Museum (
Chien-Shiung Wu | Science - UNSW Sydney
Chien-Shiung Wu — A Heroic Experimental Physicist - Science in the News (

Monina Antonio is a digital marketing intern of PS Media Enterprise. She is currently a 3rd-year Broadcasting student from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines- Sta. Mesa.


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Chien-Shiung Wu and the Wonders of Atomic Science
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