Pour-El (Marian) Papers

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Marian Pour-El (1928-2009) was born in New York City, New York. She completed her bachelor’s degree in physics at Hunter College (1945), her A.M. in mathematics at Harvard College (1951), and continued her studies in mathematical logic at Harvard to earn her Ph.D. in 1958. She was one of the first and only female students in the Harvard mathematics department, a trend that she encountered throughout her career.

During her Ph.D. studies, Pour-El left Harvard to study under logicians in Berkeley, where she met her future husband, Akiva Pour-El, who was pursuing his doctorate in biochemistry. After receiving her Ph.D., she moved to University Park, Pennsylvania, to begin a post as a professor of mathematics at Pennsylvania State University. Pour-El taught there for the next seven years, except for a one-year sabbatical visiting position at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, from 1962-1964, where she met mathematician Kurt Gödel. She left Pennsylvania State University in 1968 to accept a professorship at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, remaining where she remained until her retirement in 2000. From 1969 to 1970, Pour-El was a visiting professor at the University of Bristol in England.

Her research produced over 30 published works,including one book, Computability in Analysis and Physics, co-authored with Ian Richards. Along with teaching duties and research, Pour-El served on a number of university committees that included university procedural matters, computer science department planning, search committees, and women graduate students.

Pour-El actively participated in mathematics organizations, including the American Mathematical Society (AMS), Mathematical Association of America (MAA), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS), Association for Symbolic Logic (ASL), and the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM). She sat on various committees, particularly with AMS, including the Committee for Committees, Committee on Translations from Russians, Committee to Monitor Problems in Communication, and the Committee on Professional Ethics, among others.

A significant portion of Pour-El’s involvement in the mathematical community and scholarship came from the many presentations she made at conferences, lectures, and symposiums both in the United States but internationally. In addition, she was invited to speak at events in Hungary, England, the Czech Republic, China, Japan, Germany, and Russia.

Pour-El received several honors, including a symposium held in her honor in Japan (1993), election as an AAAS fellow (1983), and election to the Hunter Hall of Fame (1975). She belonged to Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Pi Mu Epsilon, and Sigma Pi Sigma. In addition to her fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, she was awarded fellowships from the National Academy of Science and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Due to the commitments to their respective careers, Pour-El and her husband lived apart for a large portion of their marriage in varying amounts of time and distance. Because of this, Pour-El and her husband often raised their daughter, Ina, in a single-parent household. She wrote several articles about her nontraditional marriage, including, “Spatial Separation in Family Life: A Mathematician’s Choice,” published in Mathematics Tomorrow . She was especially interested the advancement of women in society and in the workplace, particularly in the math and sciences.

From the guide to the Marian Pour-El Papers 2011-025., 1940-2004, (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Marian Pour-El Papers 2011-025., 1940-2004 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alonzo Church person
associatedWith American Mathematics Society corporateBody
associatedWith Anthony Dunlop person
associatedWith Association for Women in Mathematics corporateBody
associatedWith Barry Cipra person
associatedWith Erwin Engeler person
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Haskell B. Curry person
associatedWith Hunter College corporateBody
associatedWith Ian Richards person
associatedWith Institute for Advanced Studies corporateBody
associatedWith John Myhill person
associatedWith Kurt Gödel person
associatedWith Leonore Blum person
associatedWith Mathematical Association for America corporateBody
associatedWith Paul Bernays person
associatedWith Pennsylvania State University corporateBody
associatedWith Phi Beta Kappa corporateBody
associatedWith Pi Mu Epsilon corporateBody
associatedWith Radcliffe College corporateBody
associatedWith Sigma Pi Sigma corporateBody
associatedWith Sigma Xi corporateBody
associatedWith University of Bristol corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, Berkeley corporateBody
associatedWith University of Minnesota corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Logic, Symbolic and mathematical
Gödel numbers
Recursion theory
Computable functions
Functional analysis
Mathematics
Occupation
Activity

Person

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