Wooster Libraries’ “Hidden Science Superstars” Revealed

Four busts and two portraits of scientists from historically underrepresented groups now displayed in Timken Science Library

WOOSTER, Ohio – Six new displays in Timken Science Library will serve as enduring inspiration for College of Wooster students, as they can look up from their study carrels and view images and names of scientists from historically underrepresented groups. The four busts and two portraits were revealed Wednesday during a ceremony that included remarks from President Sarah Bolton and Beverly Cain, the state librarian of Ohio.

Science Superstars

The six “Hidden Science Superstars” are:

  • Martha Chase ’50, a Wooster alumna known for the Hershey-Chase experiments that helped confirm DNA, not protein, is the genetic material of life
  • Rosalind Franklin, an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who made critical contributions in discovering the structure of DNA
  • Mae Jemison, an engineer, physician, and the first African-American woman to travel in space (1992)
  • Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian who was the first woman awarded the Fields Medal (2014), the most prestigious honor in mathematics
  • Ibn Sina, known as Avicenna, was a highly influential philosopher and scientist during the Islamic Golden Age, as scholars used his encyclopedic works for centuries
  • Chien-Shiung Wu, a Chinese-American nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project and won the inaugural Wolf Prize in Physics (1978)

A year-in-the-making, the “Hidden Science Superstars” idea was conceived by Irene Herold, librarian of the College, with the goal being “to make a commitment to celebrate the rich diversity of scientists that weren’t currently represented in the building.” Nominations were first solicited from across campus, then after 40-plus nominees were narrowed to 12 finalists, the honorees were selected via campus-wide vote.

The project may not have been possible without the Library Services and Technology Act, the funding of which is administered by the state library of Ohio, as well as a gift from Wooster’s former director of libraries Damon Hickey and his wife Mary, which allowed for two additional honorees, instead of the original four. “We were very happy with the grant proposal and that we were able to support this wonderful program. It’s now very rewarding to be back, to see the result of this tremendous work that really involved the entire campus,” commented Cain.

Bolton asserted this project is especially appropriate for Wooster. “I’m really delighted that the College has undertaken this. What we’re doing here really is broadening our iconography, thinking about what is the wide range of inspiring stories of discovery that can dwell among us here,” she remarked and also noted that one of the College’s founding premises was “everyone should be welcome in (this) community of learners on equal terms,” which was a radical statement in 1866.

The four busts of Chase, Franklin, Sina, and Wu will be permanently secured atop the bookcases of the Timken Science Library reading room, while Jemison’s and Mirzakhami‘s portraits will be displayed in the stairway leading up to the reading room.

For more information, visit libguides.wooster.edu/science-superstars.