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A Scientist’s Legacy

Toronto group creates scholarship in honour of Marie Curie Sklodowska

Inspired by the humanitarian ideals of a Nobel Prize winner, the Marie Curie Sklodowska Association is celebrating 50 years of philanthropy by establishing scholarships for female physics and chemistry students at U of T. “We were always influenced by our patron, Marie Curie – née Maria Sklodowska – whose persistence and devotion enabled her to achieve so much for science and for women,” says association vice-president Stella Lachoski.

After graduating from U of T, Lachoski (BA 1952), Adele Simpson (BA 1951) and 25 of their classmates from the Faculty of Arts and Science formed a charitable association to raise money for social, educational and cultural causes in Toronto. The group has since grown to 85 – all Canadian women of Polish descent – and fundraising efforts now include an annual gala to commemorate Curie’s birthday, as well as art shows, bake sales and clothing drives. “These scholarships are the epitome of everything we have worked towards,” says Lachoski. “Even after we are long gone, there will be an enduring legacy to our association, which, we hope, will inspire future generations of women to pursue a career in the sciences.”

The association has donated $100,000 to the department of physics, endowing two undergraduate scholarships and a graduate fellowship. Starting next year, the awards will be presented annually on the basis of academic merit and financial need. “Marie Curie spoke in her writings about the joy she felt when discovering ‘the new sights of nature.’ These scholarships will encourage aspiring scientists to share in that joy,” says Professor Michael Luke, chair of the physics department. The donation will be matched by the Government of Ontario and the University of Toronto.

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