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Sr. Mary Kenneth Keller
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Scientist
    (circa 1914-January 10, 1985)
    Born in Ohio
    Roman Catholic nun and first American woman (and possibly the woman ever) to earn a PhD in Computer Science
    BS in Mathematics (1943) and MS in Mathematics and Physics (1953) from Depaul University
    PhD in Computer Science in 1965 from the University of Wisconsin - Madison
    Thesis title: Inductive Inference on Computer Generated Patterns
    Books included; Computer graphics and applications of matrix methods: three dimensional computer graphics and projections, Electrical circuits and applications of matrix methods: analysis of linear circuits, Food service management and Application of matrix method: food service dietary requirements, Markov chains and applications of matrix methods: fixed point and absorbing Markov chains
    Established and ran the computer science department at Clarke College from 1965 to her death in 1985
    Helped develop the computer language BASIC
    Her early life is a near complete mystery with her date and exact place place of birth still unknowns.
    When she wrote about the matrix she wasn't talking about the movie.
    She spent her entire post PhD career at tiny, obscure Clarke College in Iowa.
    Her place in computer and feminist history is almost totally ignored, most inexplicably by those who seek to increase the role of women in the sciences.
    Being the first American woman (she graduated alongside the first American man) to earn a PhD in Computer Science is an amazing accomplishment.
    Her experience doesn't really comport with the anti-Catholic stereotype of the Catholic Church being anti-woman and anti-intellectual.
    She worked at Dartmouth University even before it accepted women as students.
    She worked very hard to promote the role of women in computers and the use of computers in education.
    She was extremely humble and is not believed to have ever given an interview.
    She remained true to her beliefs and stayed a nun when she could have left her order and made tons of money on the outside.

Credit: tom_jeffords


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