Who Is Laura Bassi? Early Life, Career, Facts, & Cause Of Death

Laura Maria Catarina Bassi is one of the famous scientist women in history. Laura Bassi was born in Bologna, Papal States (modern-day Italy), in 1711.

She is best known for her thesis defense. She became the first female member of the Bologna Academy of Sciences, Italy’s foremost scientific institution. Due to gender discrimination, her position at the Academy was limited, yet she persisted.

Laura Bassi arises as a primary force for propelling scientific progress forward. Bassi successfully defended 49 theses to become one of the first women in Europe to receive a Ph.D. If today is your first time hearing about Laura Bassi, let’s explore more about her right away.

Who Is Laura Bassi?

Laura Bassi is one of the inspirational women in the history of academics and science. She was an Italian physicist and academic. Laura was best known as the goddess of wisdom because she was the first to hold a doctorate in science and the second to earn the Doctor of Philosophy degree as a woman.

She also worked at the University of Bologna as a female teacher. Laura Bassi became the first female teacher and the highest-paid employee of the university.

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Her Profile

Full NameLaura Maria Caterina Bassi Veratt
Best Known AsLaura Bassi
Date Of BirthOctober 29, 1711
Died OnFebruary 20, 1778
Known ForFirst female university professor.
Populariser of Newtonian mechanics in Italy.

Laura Bassi Early Life And Biography

Luara Bassi was born Laura Maria Caterina Bassi Veratt in October 29, 1711, in Bologna, Italy. She was born to a wealthy lawyer called Guiseppe Bass and his wife, Rose Marrie Cesarei.

Bassi didn’t have any formal education, but she was privately educated. Her cousin, Father Lorenzo Stegani, taught her Mathematics, French, and Latin from age 5 and 13. Gaetano Tacconi, the family physician, and professor of medicine at the University of Bologna continued to teach her Philosophy, Metaphysic, logic, and natural philosophy from age 13 to 20.

Laura Bassi found an interest in Newtonian Science and parted with Tacconi’s decision which he wanted her to focus on the less controversial Cartesian teachings. However, Prospero Lorenzini Lambertin, the Archbishop of Bologna in 1731, (Later Pope Benedict XIV) spotted Laura Bassi’s education and ability and became Bassi’s official patron.

Her Professional Career

Laura Bassi

In April 1732, Lambertini arranged a public debate between Laura Bassi and four other professors from Bologna university. She defended her opponents successfully and was awarded a doctorate on May 12, 1732.

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She became the first woman to receive a doctorate in science and the second woman in the world to earn a philosophy doctorate after Elena Cornaro Piscopia in 1678, fifty-four years prior. She was by then popularly known as Bolognese Minerva (The Goddess Of Wisdom). 

On March 20, 1732, she became the first woman elected to the Academy of Science of the Institute of Bologna. In 1739 her plea for regular teaching duty was supported by Lambertini and Flamino Scarselli, the secretary to the Bolognese ambassador at the papal court.

Her appeal was rejected, but she was allowed to start private lessons and granted funds for experiments at her home in 1759. This allowed her to avoid the constraints of the university and to explore new ideas.

How Did Laura Bassi Die?

According to our research, Laura Bassi died on February 20, 1778, at the age of 66. She had deteriorating health associated with her many pregnancies and childbirth difficulties.

5 Facts About Laura Bassi

  1.  Laura Bassi was made a professor at a very young age.
  2. Bassi taught Newtonian physics for many years.
  3.  Lauri Bassi was appointed to an elite group of thinkers called the “Benedettini.”
  4. Bassi was the second woman in Europe to receive a university doctorate degree.
  5. A unique scholarship program is named in her honor today.
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