Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Mary Brück

Astronomer, astrophysicist and historian of science.

Mary Brück
Courtesy of Royal Observatory/University of Edinburgh

Mary Brück (nee Conway) was a postgraduate at the University of Edinburgh, where she carried out research in solar astrophysics, culminating in the award of a PhD in 1950, then a principal scientific officer at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

Mary returned to Dublin to work at the Dunsink Observatory which had reopened as a research institute in 1947 and had transferred to the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

In 1957 Mary and her husband and children moved to Edinburgh, and she was appointed a part-time lecturer here at the University in 1962. She subsequently became a full-time lecturer and was promoted to a senior lecturer.

Mary carried out research into starts, the Interstellar medium and the Magellanic Clouds. Some of this made use of photographic observations from the UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring in Australia.  She used the numbers, brightnesses and colours of stars in the Magellanic Clouds to study the structure and evolution of these nearby galaxies.  Mary published widely in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Publications of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Nature and Astronomy and Astrophysics.

On retirement she became an historian of her subject, with particular emphasis on the under-recognised role of gifted women.

In recognition of Mary's work to promote Astronomy in general and the contribution of female astronomers in particular, the University awarded her a Fellowship when she turned 80. Mary continued delivering public lectures on the subject of women in astronomy until shortly before her death.

The "Mary Brück Building" was built at King's Buildings in recognition of her inspirational teaching and support to generations of undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University, as well as promoting public interest in astronomy in retirement.


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