Marian Pour-El, long-time professor of mathematics, died on June 10, 2009. She was 81.
Born in New York City, Pour-El received her bachelor’s degree in physics from Hunter College in New York in 1949. She received a full scholarship to attend graduate school at Harvard University where she earned a master’s degree in mathematics in 1951, followed by a Ph.D. in mathematical logic in 1958.
Pour-El blazed a previously uncharted course for women at Harvard during the early 1950s. Not only was she was one of the first women to complete a Ph.D. in mathematics, she also was first to study logics within mathematics.
After receiving her doctorate, Pour-el served as a mathematics faculty member at Penn State University until 1962. From 1962 to 1964, she was on the visiting faculty at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton and worked with Kurt GÃ¶del, one of the most important mathematicians of the century. In 1964, she joined the School of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota and served until her retirement in 2000.
Considered a leader in her field, Pour-el’s research interests included computability and functional analysis, and applications to physical theory. Over the years, she addressed many international symposia and conferences in logic, including the American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America. In 1993, a symposium was held in her honor in Kyoto, Japan.
Pour-el left a unique and admirable legacy with her service to the School of Mathematics, and various American Mathematical Society committees. She was also an inspiration and mentor to many female graduate students.
June 17, 2009