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Words Matter: Paris Pishmish - Armenian Astronomer

Paris Pishmish was born as Mari Soukiassian in 1911 in Armenia. The severe sexism during the early 1900s made it difficult for women to get a proper education and caused less to pursue their interests in STEM. However, Pishmish did not let these factors stop her as her achievements began to accumulate.. Her education took place at Üsküdar American Academy and the Istanbul University. She was the first woman to get a PhD in that school in 1933 with a degree in mathematics and classical astronomy. After Instanbul University, she studied in Harvard to become a Doctor of Science in mathematics in 1937. She settled in Mexico with her husband, who she met at Harvard University, and became the first female astronomer in Mexico. Intelligence and drive for knowledge ran in her family, as her husband studied math, her daughter grew up to become an astrophysicist, and her son became a mathematician. Pishmish taught at the National Autonomous University in Mexico. Before starting on her own projects, she also worked as a translator and a support scientist.

Her work featured kinematics (describing motion), the measurement of light with nebulae, and radial velocities. She introduced many new scientific discoveries and concepts, such as the Fabry-Perot interferometry. She was also the first scientist to investigate the photometrics of star clusters, and helped explain why the galaxy is structured to be a spiral. Pishmish was valued in the scientific community, publishing over 135 articles in popular journals. She was a member of numerous scientific communities: the American Astronomical Society, the Mexican Physical Society and International Astronomical Union (IAU), the Royal Astronomical Society of Great Britain, and the Academy of Sciences of Mexico. Her contributions allowed her to win a Science Teaching Prize from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Pishmish also wrote a book, Reminiscences in the Life of Paris Pişmiş: A Woman Astronomer, about her culture.

Her involvement in the scientific community extended to teaching many famous upcoming scientists of that time. Despite being a woman of color in a STEM field that made it difficult to achieve success, Pishmish's career thrived and influenced others, as well. She personally impacted many other important Mexican astrophysicists, allowing more scientists of color to learn and pursue their interests.


Sources:

Baronian, T., Says:, E., Says:, M., & Says:, K. (2020, August 20). Beyond Motherhood: Powerful Armenian Women in Science. Retrieved September 04, 2020, from https://armenianweekly.com/2020/08/19/beyond-motherhood-powerful-armenian-women-in-science/

Paris Pişmiş. (2020, May 01). Retrieved September 04, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Pişmiş


Written by: Sejal Mohan

Edited by: Janelle Tengco


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