Women in Rutgers Mathematics

In 1918, Rutgers University (then a subset of Rutgers College!) created the New Jersey College for Women (NJC was renamed Douglass College in 1955.) At first, classes at NJC were taught by volunteer faculty members from Rutgers College, but it hired non-tenured Instructors to help teach its classes. In this capacity, the first women mathematician at Rutgers was Ruth Thompson, who taught as an Instructor at NJC during 1922-28. There were several women hired as Instructors at NJC during the next few decades; they were reappointed annually. Women were not able to become Professors at the other Colleges at Rutgers (Rutgers College and University College) until the 1950s.

NJC (Douglass) Math Faculty in 1946
Katharine Hazard, Robert Walter, Grace Bolton, Cyril Nelson

NJC (Douglass) Math Faculty in 1953
Cyril Nelson, Mrs. Shirley Gilbert, Katharine Hazard, Robert Walter

Katharine E. Hazard (1915-1992)

Katharine Hazard received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1940. Her thesis was entitled "Index theorems for the problem of Bolza in the calculus of variations." After several short-term appointments, she was hired by NJC as an Instructor in Mathematics in Fall 1945. The math faculty that year consisted of two Professors (Nelson and Walter) and two Instructors (Katharine Hazard and Grace Bolton).

On April 23, 1947 the Rutgers Trustees promoted Hazard to Assistant Professor. This appointment was for 6 years, and was renewed in 1953 for another 6 years. At some point, she was promoted to the rank of full Professor.

Katharine Hazard retired in 1981, when the Douglass College and Rutgers College faculty merged to form the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS). The annual Katharine Hazard Prize in Mathematics is awarded in her honor to a first-year student at Douglass College who has done exceptional work in mathematics.

Helen Nickerson (1918-1990)

Helen Kelsall Nickerson graduated from Vassar College in 1939, gave birth to a son (Kenneth) in 1942, and then received her Ph.D. in 1949 from Radcliffe College (the women's college of Harvard), while teaching at nearby Wheaton College (MA). She was a Resarch Associate at Princeton for a decade (1951-60) before coming to Douglass College in 1960. After a year as a Lecturer, she was promoted to Associate Professor (with tenure) in 1961.

Her book with D.C. Spencer and N.E. Steenrod, Advanced Calculus was published in 1959. In addition, she published 8 papers during 1958-1988 in the field of Differential Geometry.

Jacqueline B. Lewis (c.1937-1982)

Jaqui Lewis received her Ph.D. in 1962 from New York University; her thesis was Meromorphic Differentials on closed Riemann surfaces as functions of moduli. In 1963, she was hired by University College, one of the Colleges making up Rutgers University. She later served University College as Associate Dean (1974-78), Vice Dean (1978-81) and as Dean of University College from 1981 until her death in 1982 at the age of 48 from cancer. During 1981-82, she also served as Acting Dean of the Faculty of Professional Studies.

The annual Jacqueline B. Lewis Memorial Award goes to a non-traditional graduate student in Mathematics or Psychology. In addition, the Jacqui Lewis Memorial Lectures are given each year. These lectures were endowed in 1983 by a gift from Dean Lewis' aunt, Lillian Nassau.

Joanne Elliott (1925-2023)

Joanne Elliott received her Ph.D. in 1950 from Cornell, entitled On Some Singular Integral Equations of the Cauchy Type. After a year at Swarthmore, she was an assistant professor at Mount Holyoke College during 1952--56. During that period, she wrote the 1956 Transactions paper "Stochastic Processes Connected With Harmonic Functions," with William Feller. In 1956, she relocated to Barnard College (teaching at Columbia University). By 1964, she had arrived at Douglass College of Rutgers, and was a Professor of Mathematics from 1965 until her retirement in 1991. She supervised five Ph.D. theses during 1967-1978.

Jane Cronin Scanlon (1922-2018)

Born in 1922, she received her Ph.D. in 1949 from the University of Michigan (in differential equations). After 6 years in Massachussetts with the Air Force, Wheaton College and American Optical, and post-docs at Michigan and Princeton, she came to Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (now part of NYU) in 1957, being promoted to Professor in 1960. In 1965, she joined the faculty of Rutgers College as a Professor. She remained at Rutgers until her retirement in 1991.

She has 70 publications (most under the name of Jane Cronin). From 1950 until 1972, all her publications were in mathematics (differential equations modelling dynamics). Starting in 1973, she began publishing in the field we now call biomathematics: models of schizophrenia, cardiac fibers and cellular oscillations. She was a well known lecturer, giving invited addresses at many international conferences.
More information is available at her 1985 AWM biographical sketch.

Tilla Weinstein (1934-2002)

Born Tilla Savanuck in 1934 and married in 1953, Tilla Klotz received her Ph.D. in 1959 from New York University in differential geometry. Her first position was at UCLA, where she was tenured in 1966. After a year (1969-70) at Boston College, she came to Douglass College to chair the Department of Mathematics (1970-73 and 1978-80). While in the middle of an active research life, she was known as a crucial mentor for her younger colleages, especially her younger female colleagues.

During her career, she published 46 papers under her three married names. She published 15 papers as Tilla Klotz during 1959-69. In 1969, she married John Milnor and published 25 papers as Tilla K. Milnor during 1969-1991. In 1992, she married Kive Weinstein and published 7 papers as Tilla Weinstein. She retired in 2000.

The annual Tilla Weinstein Award is awarded for exceptional achievement in mathematics.

Early Diversity

By 1965, Rutgers had practically cornered the market on women mathematicians. In addition to Katharine Hazard (at Douglass) and Barbara Osofsky, the various math departments had now acquired Helen Nickerson (1960), Jacqueline Lewis (1963, University College), Joanne Elliott (1964), Jane Scanlon (1965), and Patricia Tulley McAuley (1965, Douglass). Thus 7 of the 32 senior faculty (22%) were women. The national average was under 1% women then, and is still only 18% today (in 2024) at major research universities. Even in the 2020's, few countries boast such a high percentage.

Younger faculty in the 1970s: Helen Marston, Barbara Osofsky

Amy Cohen (1942- )

Amy Cohen was born in 1942, and received her Ph.D. in 1970 from UC Berkeley, entitled "Asymptotic behavior and unique continuation for hyperbolic operators." She joined the Rutgers Math Department (Douglass College) in 1972. Her research was in solutions of non-linear Partial Differential Equations, especially the Korteweg-deVries equation. She later became interested in enhancing education in Mathematics (in both K-12 and post-secondary education). She was also the Dean of Rutgers' University College 1988-1994. She is also a Fellow of the AAAS and the AWM, and retired in 2015.

Jean Taylor (1944- )

Jean Taylor was born in San Mateo, California. She received a MSc. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in one of three children of a lawyer and a high school gym teacher. Becoming intersted in mathematics, she transferred to the University of Warwick, where she received a M.Sc. in mathematics. She completed a doctorate in 1972 from Princeton University under the supervision of Fred Almgren, and joined the Rutgers faculty in 1973.

She is known for her work on the mathematics of soap bubbles and of the growth of crystals. She was president of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) from 1999 to 2001, a Fellow of the AMS and AWM, and is a member of the AMS, the AWM, SIAM, AAAS, AWIS and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Jean retired from Rutgers in 2002.

maintained by: Charles Weibel, weibel @ math.rutgers.edu.