She was born in China and emigrated to the United States after graduating from Nanking Central University in 1936. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She taught at Smith College and Princeton University before taking a position at Columbia University.
In 1957, while at Columbia University, she disproved the law of conservation of parity - which had been one of the basic assumptions in physics. She devised the experiment which confirmed a theory proposed by Drs. T. D. Lee and C. N. Yang. Lee and Yang received the Nobel Prize for their work but not Chien Shiung Wu. She was, however, given many other honors, including the Comstock Award from the National Academy of Sciences in 1964. She was the first women to receive this award.
She then moved into medical research to study sickle cell anemia. She believed that "even the most sophisticated and seemingly remote basic nuclear physics research has implications beneficial to human welfare."
A photograph and more extensive bio are available at the UCLA Contributions of Women to Physics site.
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