Astronomer Vera Rubin dies at 88

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Astronomer Vera Rubin, who made major discoveries of evidence of dark matter, died Sunday night at 88 years old.

Her son, Allen Rubin, a professor of geosciences at Princeton University, said that his mother died of natural causes.

Rubin had earned many awards and honors for her scientific achievements, including a National Medal of Science awarded by President Bill Clinton in 1993 for “for her pioneering research programs in observational cosmology.”  She is also the second female astronomer to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

“It goes without saying that, as a woman scientist, Vera Rubin had to overcome a number of barriers along the way,” tweeted Sean Carroll, California Institute of Technology physicist.

Rubin graduated from Vassar college in 1948.  She earned her master’s degree from Cornell University after being denied a spot in Princeton University’s graduate program, because they did not allow women to attend at that time.

Rubin earned her doctorate from Georgetown University, and spent several more years there as a faculty member.  Afterwards, she worked at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, a nonprofit scientific research center.

She examined over 200 galaxies in her scientific career.

“Vera Rubin was a national treasure as an accomplished astronomer and a wonderful role model for young scientists,” stated Matthew Scott, president of the Carnegie Institution. “We are very saddened by this loss.”

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