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Everyone should know them: 6 Ukrainian women who left an important mark on the history of science despite Soviet repression

Alina MilsentNews
A female scientist

February 11 is the International Day of Women in Science. According to UNESCO statistics, the share of women in the scientific world is quite low, making only 30%. Data collected in the Ukrainian scientific community is more progressive. Ukraine ranks 12th out of 41 European countries with one of the highest rates of women among all scientists, 45%.

Many Ukrainian researchers have made a significant impact on world science. Ukraine Now tells us the stories of Ukrainian women who have left their mark on the history of science despite the repression of the Soviets.

Valentyna Radzymovska (October 13, 1886 - December 22, 1953)

Valentyna Radzymovska was a famous biologist and founder of the Ukrainian school of physiologists and biochemists. She graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at Kyiv University and later became a professor at the Kyiv Medical Institute (now the Bohomolets National Medical University). Radzymovska was not spared from Soviet repression. She was an active pro-Ukrainian activist, and was a member of the Lubny Gymnasium Club of the Revolutionary Ukrainian Party and the Taras Shevchenko Society in Kyiv. In September 1929, Radzymovska was arrested on trumped-up charges of "participating in a Ukrainian underground counterrevolutionary organization, the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine." Repression and arrests did not prevent her from publishing about 70 papers on biochemistry, pathophysiology, neuropsychiatry, and pediatrics. She also studied tuberculosis and its treatment in children. After World War II, the scientist moved to the United States.

Everyone should know them: 6 Ukrainian women who left an important mark on the history of science despite Soviet repression

Nina Morozhenko (March 13, 1928 - July 10, 2009)

As an astronomer, heliophysicist, and doctor of physical and mathematical sciences, Nina devoted her entire life to studying the structure of the Sun and cosmic processes that affect most areas of human activity. Her research on solar prominences was among the first in the world. They paved the way for many other researchers in different countries. Morozhenko spent 30 years of her life, from 1958 to 1988, working at the Main Astrophysical Observatory of the Ukrainian SSR.

Everyone should know them: 6 Ukrainian women who left an important mark on the history of science despite Soviet repression

Kateryna Yushchenko (December 8, 1919 - August 15, 2001)

Kateryna began her scientific career in 1946 at the Lviv branch of the Kyiv Institute of Mathematics of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences, where she obtained important results in the field of probability theory. She managed to prove a theorem on the laws of multivariate stable dynamic distributions. The results of her PhD thesis became classical in quantum mechanics. Kateryna Yushchenko was a scientist in computer and information research. She developed the addressable programming language, the basis for most of the programs we use today. Yushchenko was part of a group of scientists who operated the first computer in continental Europe, developed in the 1950s.

Everyone should know them: 6 Ukrainian women who left an important mark on the history of science despite Soviet repression

Nina Virchenko (born May 5, 1930)

Nina Virchenko is a recognized expert in mathematics, a member of mathematical societies in different countries. In 1948, at the age of 18, she was sentenced to 10 years in camps for "Ukrainian nationalism." She was rehabilitated in 1954, defended her PhD thesis and doctoral dissertation. After returning from exile on trumped-up charges, Nina worked and continued her studies despite constant searches and interrogations by the state security, which lasted until 1990. Nina has written more than 500 scientific papers translated into many languages. Her broad research interests include the theory of mixed boundary value problems, generalized analytic functions, integral transforms, singular partial differential equations, special functions, historical and mathematical methods, etc.

Everyone should know them: 6 Ukrainian women who left an important mark on the history of science despite Soviet repression

Maryna Viazovska (born December 2, 1984)

A well-known Ukrainian scientist currently working at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, she was previously engaged in research at the Berlin School of Mathematics and Humboldt University of Berlin. In 2016, she received a prestigious award, the Salem Prize, which is presented annually to young researchers for outstanding contributions to science. Maryna received this award for her breakthrough work on creating the densest ball packs in sizes 8 and 24 using modular molds. Maryna solved a problem that other scientists had been working on for 400 years. Maryna Viazovska is the second woman in history to receive the Fields Medal (2022) for "an elegant solution to a part of Hilbert's 18th problem, the problem of packing balls in 8-dimensional space."

Everyone should know them: 6 Ukrainian women who left an important mark on the history of science despite Soviet repression

Olha Brovarets (October 10, 1986 - July 14, 2022)

The life of a talented Ukrainian scientist ended very early. Olha became famous for her work in the field of biophysics. Her discoveries shed light on the mechanisms of cancer and other diseases caused by mutations. For example, in 2017, she found a way for pairs of chromosomes with mutations to "trick" DNA and integrate into a cancer-causing helix.

Everyone should know them: 6 Ukrainian women who left an important mark on the history of science despite Soviet repression

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