Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu was an experimental physicist nicknamed the “First Lady of Physics” who made significant contributions to nuclear and particle physics. An immigrant to the States from China, she worked on the Manhattan Project designing the world’s first atomic bombs by separating uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion. With many awards and achievements under her belt, including the Comstock Prize in Physics (1964), the National Medal of Science (1975), being the seventh woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1958), being the first woman to be president of the American Physical Society (1975), and even having an asteroid named after her, Wu’s work was instrumental in shaping modern physical theory.
Lili‘uokalani was the first sovereign queen and last monarch of Hawaii. Born to a powerful Hawaiian family and highly educated, she was an advocate for restoring native Hawaiian rights and power to the Hawaiian monarchy. Before she became queen, foreign landowners were acquiring large sections of Hawaii in the 1800s – slowly gaining more control over the territory. When her brother, King Kalakaua died in 1891, she made history by becoming the sovereign ruler. However, this was short-lived due to a group of European and American citizens staging a coup in 1893 which was backed by the US military, forcing Lili‘uokalani to give up her authority. She then dedicated her life to preserving native Hawaiian rights and traditions – even composing over 160 songs. One of which is Aloha ‘Oe, a national anthem of Hawaii.
Madhulika Guhathakurta is a NASA astrophysicist and scientist working as the Lead Program Scientist for the “Living With a Star” (LWS) initiative which focuses on understanding solar variability and its diverse effects on Earth, human technology, and astronauts in space. Dr. Guhathakurta has impressively authored over 70 publications on heliophysics, managed and directed science programs, worked as an educator, and built instruments for spacecraft.
Yuri Kochiyama was a lifelong American civil rights activist who advocated for many causes including the anti-war movement, reparations for Japanese-American internees, black liberation, and prisoner rights. She considered herself apolitical until she and her family were forced into internment camps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Sparking her shift into social justice, this led her to work with Malcom X, participate in the Statue of Liberty Storming in 1977, create “Asians for Mumia” (a collective of Asian/Asian Americans fighting for Abu-Jamal’s release), engage in extensive anti-imperialist and anti-war protests, and work with countless other activist organizations.
Maya Lin is an architect, designer, and sculptor who, in 1981, at the age of 21, received national recognition for her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Lin was an architecture student at Yale when she entered into the largest design competition in American history, beating out 1,420 other submissions for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Her work includes monumental sculptures, studio artwork, architectural works, memorials, and more – often being influenced by her strong interest in the environment. In 2009 she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama and in 2016 he also recognized Lin’s achievements with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.