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“The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific and religious freedom have always been nonconformists.”
– MLK Jr.

The Physical Sciences Division is proud to present the PSD Trailblazers Wall, an interactive mural that celebrates the life and work of some of our many scientists who have pushed the boundaries of science and history. The exhibit honors the stories of those who came to the Division or to a groundbreaking discovery first. 


At its inception, the PSD Trailblazer Wall committee sought pioneers from across the Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Chemistry, Computer Science, the Geophysical Sciences, Mathematics, Statistics, and Physics, as well as several institutes, degree programs, and offices. The committee’s interviews and research uncovered many trailblazers and hidden figures, spanning decades and roles within the Division, who illuminated the way to life-changing discoveries or shattered the boundaries of their society’s time.


There are so many people who shaped the Division’s identity, and expanded its impact across the nation and the world that the committee had to vote for those that would be included in the first iteration of the exhibit. We intend for this project to continue to grow and welcome you to submit PSD trailblazers who pushed the frontiers of science and society with their efforts, tenacity, and creativity.


Our hopes are that this wall will be an inspiration for the present and future generations of scientists who will themselves do groundbreaking work. 

Is there a member of the PSD community that you would like to see added to the mural?

Submit their information here:


Art Direction and Design for the PSD Trailblazers Wall Project was provided by Christopher G. Leather of PSD Graphic Arts. Website Design and Development was provided by Samantha Delacruz of PSD Graphic Arts.


The digital images used to create these portraits were the result of a collaborative process with Yannick Meurice, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa, in consultation with Nova Meurice. Using a process developed by Meurice, a series of digital aquatints was produced from a selection of black and white photographs. The method used is based on a simple model of two-dimensional ferromagnetism called the Ising model which has two phases: one phase is disordered while the other has some magnetic order.

Starting from the disordered phase, one can reach the ordered phase by lowering the temperature of the system.

For details see Y. Meurice, American Journal of Physics 90, 87-92 (2022)

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