Jenny Rosenthal Bramley

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Jenny Rosenthal Bramley
Born (1909-07-31)July 31, 1909
Moscow, Russia
Died May 26, 1997(1997-05-26) (aged 87)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States
Nationality Russian
Known for First woman to earn Ph.D in physics from an American institution
Scientific career
Fields Physics

Jenny Rosenthal Bramley (July 31, 1909 – May 26, 1997) was a Russian physicist. She was the first woman to earn a doctorate in physics from an American institution, and she was the second woman elected as a fellow of the IEEE.[1] She holds numerous patents on Electroluminescence and Electro-optics and is cited by the IEEE as being "well known for her innovative work in lasers.” [2]

Personal life[edit]

Bramley was born Jenny Rosenthal in Moscow on July 31, 1909.[2] Her parents were Lithuanian, and she and her family left Russia as part of a hostage exchange between Lithuania and the Soviet Union. She attended high school in Berlin and earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Paris in 1926 at age 16.[3]

She spoke English, Russian, French, and German and used her translation skills many times at professional meetings and to translate technical articles.[2]

Bramley received both a master's degree in 1927 and a doctorate in 1929 at age 19 from New York University (NYU). University officials at NYU said she became the first woman to receive a Ph.D in physics from an American institution.[4][5]

Bramley met her husband, Dr. Arthur Bramley, while working as a physicist at the United States Army Signal Corps Engineering Laboratory in Belmar, NJ. She died on May 26, 1997 at age 87 in Lancaster, PA, and is survived by a daughter, son, eleven grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.[3]


After graduating from New York University Bramley did research at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan before teaching at Brooklyn College and New York University.[6]

Along with Gregory Breit, Bramley was the first to calculate the effect of extended nuclear charge on hyperfine structure and isotopic shift – an effect still known as the Breit-Rosenthal correction.[7] She contributed to a number of other fields including applying electroluminescence to solid state displays and storage devices and developing high efficiency lasers. Bramley also invented coding techniques and methods of decoding pictorial information, later used in classified studies.[8]

During World War II Bramley conducted some research in secret which she was unable to publish at the time.[9] In the 1950s she worked at Monmouth Junior College where she served as head of the mathematics department.[10]

Honors and awards[edit]


  1. ^ "Jenny Rosenthal Bramley – GHN: IEEE Global History Network". Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  2. ^ a b c "Dr. Jenny Rosenthal Bramley". CECOM Historical Office. U.S. Army Live Blog. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Jenny Bramley, 87, Physicist and Inventor". New York Times. 2 June 1997. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "IEEE Northern Virginia Section | 1977–78 Past Chair". Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  5. ^ "CWP at // Jenny Bramley". Retrieved 2014-02-17. 
  6. ^ "Bramley was first woman to receive Ph.D in physics". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. June 3, 1997. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Stroke, Henry (2005). Advances in Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics, Volume 51. Gulf Professional Publishing. pp. 275–276. ISBN 0-08-045608-1. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Gale Editors (2005). Dictionary of Women Worldwide. Cengage Gale (via HighBeam) (subscription required). ISBN 0-7876-7585-7. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "AAUW Journal, Volumes 36-37". American Association of University Women. 36-37. 1942. Retrieved June 17, 2014. My work is secret in nature. After the war I hope to be able to publish some of it. 
  10. ^ Gabriele Kass-Simon; Patricia Farnes; Deborah Nash (1993). Women of Science: Righting the Record. Indiana University Press. p. 180. ISBN 0-253-20813-0. Retrieved 17 June 2014.