Marie Skłodowska Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish–French physicist–chemist famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes—in physics and chemistry. She was the first female professor at the University of Paris. She was the first woman to be entombed on her own merits (in 1995) in the Paris Panthéon.
She was born Maria Salomea Skłodowska in Warsaw, in Russian Poland, and lived there to the age of 24. In 1891 she followed her older sister Bronisława to study in Paris, where she earned her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work. She shared her Nobel Prize in Physics (1903) with her husband Pierre Curie (and with Henri Becquerel). Her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and son-in-law, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, would similarly share a Nobel Prize. She was the sole winner of the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and is the only woman to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences.
Her achievements include a theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium. Under her direction, the world’s first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms, using radioactive isotopes. She founded the Curie Institutes: the Curie Institute (Paris) and the Curie Institute (Warsaw).
While an actively loyal French citizen, Skłodowska–Curie (as she styled herself) never lost her sense of Polish identity. She taught her daughters the Polish language and took them on visits to Poland. She named the first chemical element that she discovered “polonium” (1898) for her native country. During World War I she became a member of the Committee for a Free Poland (Komitet Wolnej Polski). In 1932 she founded a Radium Institute (now the Maria Skłodowska–Curie Institute of Oncology) in her home town, Warsaw, headed by her physician-sister Bronisława.