The release of the stamp coincides with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

By Kelly Vaughan
February 12, 2021
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The United States Postal Service recently unveiled a new Forever postage stamp featuring Chien-Shiung Wu, who is widely considered to be the "the First Lady of Physics." The release of the stamp coincides with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which was held on Thursday, February 11, and is a day that recognizes the critical role that adult and young women play in science and technology. The stamp features a portrait of Wu wearing a black-and-white high-collared traditional Chinese gown known as qipao. It was designed by the Postal Service's art director, Ethel Kessler, using original art by Kam Mak.

Physics Professor Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu in a laboratory at Columbia University
Credit: Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images

Kristin Seaver, executive vice president of the Postal Service, called Wu "one of the most influential nuclear physicists of the 20th century" and noted that she "made enormous contributions to our understanding of radioactivity and the structure of the universe."

dr. chien shiung we usps official stamp
Credit: courtesy of United States Postal Service

Shop Now: USPS Chein-Shiung Wu Stamp, $11 for sheet of 20, store.usps.com.

Chien-Shiung Wu is widely recognized for a 1956 experiment that disproved the conservation of parity, a law of physics that had become an accepted part of quantum mechanics. In 1958, her research made significant contributions to biological questions about blood and sickle cell anemia. "Her work, you now see it integrated into what is called the Standard Model of particle physics. This is our deepest understanding of nature's ingredients," said Brian Greene, a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University. "And Madame Wu's result is written all over those equations."

Born in a small town near Shanghai, Wu graduated from a university in Shanghai with a degree in physics and later went on to receive her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1940. In 1974, Wu received the first honorary doctorate awarded to a woman at Princeton University. She never received a Nobel Peace Prize despite her significant contributions to the field of physics, and many believe that she was passed over due to her gender.

"She would always mention that the number of women in senior faculty member positions was very limited. She thought that was not fair," said Vincent Yuan, her son, a nuclear physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "She thought it was terrible that women couldn't have necessarily the same ambitions and hopes that men could, if those opportunities were limited."

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