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11 Immigrant Scientists Who Made Great Contributions to America

Chien-Shiung Wu: Experimental physicist (1912–1997)

(Image credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty)

Physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, known as the "First Lady of Physics," was born in Liuhe, Jiangsu province, China. She traveled to the U.S. in 1936 to study physics at the University of California at Berkeley, specializing in nuclear fission and earning a doctoral degree in 1940. She became a U.S. citizen in 1954.

Wu developed instruments for radiation detection as part of the Manhattan Project, and worked with other researchers to develop a process for separating uranium metal into isotopes, which increased the amount of uranium that could power an atomic bomb. She was the first woman elected to the American Physical Society, serving as its president in 1975. Wu was also the first woman to receive the Cyrus B. Comstock Award of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Princeton University.

Mindy Weisberger

Mindy Weisberger is a Live Science senior writer covering a general beat that includes climate change, paleontology, weird animal behavior, and space. Mindy holds an M.F.A. in Film from Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.