Mina Spiegel Rees

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Mina Spiegel Rees

Birthdate: (95)
Death: 1997 (95)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Moses Rees and Alice Louisa Rees

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Mina Spiegel Rees



Mina Spiegel Rees (2 August 1902 - 25 October 1997) was an American mathematician. She was the first female President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1971) and head of the mathematics department of the Office of Naval Research of the United States.


She was valedictorian at Hunter College High School in New York City. She graduated Summa cum Laude with a math major at Hunter College in 1923. She received a masters in mathematics from Columbia University in 1925. At that time she was told unofficially that "the Columbia mathematics department was not really interested in having women candidates for Ph.D's". She started teaching at Hunter College then took a sabbatical to study for the doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1929. She earned her doctorate in 1931 with a thesis on "Division algebras associated with an equation whose group has four generators," published in the American Journal of Mathematics, Vol 54 (Jan. 1932), 51-65. Her advisor was Leonard Dickson.


1925-1932 Instructor at Hunter College (on leave 1929-1931 while earning a doctorate)

1932-1940 Assistant Professor at Hunter College.

1940 Associate Professor at Hunter College

World War II: Technical Aide/Executive Assistant with the Applied Mathematics Panel at Office of Scientific Research and Development.

1947 ACM Council member

1945-1951 Head of Mathematics branch at the Office of Naval Research

1952-1953 Depute Science Director for the Office of Naval Research.

1953-1961 Dean of Faculty at Hunter College

1961-1967 Full Professor and First Dean of Graduate Studies at City University of New York

1967-1969 Provost of the Graduate School and University Center at CUNY.

1969-1972 President of the Graduate School and University Center at CUNY

1971 First Woman president of the AAAS


Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics in 1962 from the Mathematical Association of America. This award was made "for outstanding service to mathematics, other than mathematical research" and for "contributions [that] influence significantly the field of mathematics or mathematical education on a national scale."

In 1983 Rees was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences "for her contributions to the scientific enterprise, especially in mathematics, astronomy, and computer sciences, from wartime, through the transition from war to peace, and continuing today."

Kings Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom (Britain) and the President's Certificate of Merit (USA) for her important contributions during World War II.

AAAS Presidential Address: Mina Rees, "The Saga of American Universities: The Role of Science," Science (5 January 1973) 179:19-23.

Notable Publications

"Division algebras associated with an equation whose group has four generators," published in American Journal of Mathematics, Vol 54 (Jan. 1932), 51-65.

"On the solution of nonlinear hyperbolic differential equations by finite differences", with Richard Courant and E. Isaacson, Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics 5 (1952) 243-255.

"The federal computing machine program" Science 112 (1950) 731-736.

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Mina Spiegel Rees's Timeline

Age 95