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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Rose Carney

Research Assistant, ProfessorChicago, IL

Manhattan Project VeteranProject Worker/StaffWoman Scientist
Rose Carney

Rose Carney (1920-2007) was a research assistant at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory (“Met Lab”) during the Manhattan Project.

At the Met Lab, Carney was part of the team developing technical instrumentation. She was at the lab on December 2, 1942, the day the lab produced its famous sustained nuclear reaction. 


Early Years

Rose Carney was born on April 30, 1920 in Chicago, Illinois and raised on the South Side. In 1938, she graduated from Visitation High School. In 1942, she earned her bachelor’s degree in physics from DePaul University. After graduating from DePaul, she went to work at the Met Lab for a year. 

Later Years

In 1943, Carney returned to DePaul to get her master’s degree. After earning her master’s degree, she accepted a job teaching mathematics and physics at Chicago’s St. Xavier University in 1946. 

Beginning in 1948, Carney served as a professor of physics and mathematics at St. Procopius College (now known as Benedictine University) in Lisle, Illinois. Carney was the first layperson to become a full-time faculty member and one of the first female physics professors at the college. 

After working on and off again toward her Ph.D., Carney finally completed her Ph.D. in physics from Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in 1961. During her time at IIT, she was a National Science Foundation faculty fellow. 

Following her year off to finish up her Ph.D., she returned to St. Procopius in 1961. She taught at the college for a total of 42 years.

In 1978, Carney, along with fellow physics professor Ralph Meeker, secured a $250,000 Comprehensive Assistance to Undergraduate Science Education (CAUSE) program grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant was used to expand the college’s growing undergraduate computer science program.

During the summertime, when the college was closed, she worked as a research associate at Argonne National Laboratory. Carney held her position at Argonne for a total of ten summers. She was also an active member of Women and Mathematics, a program run through the Mathematical Association of America.

Carney retired from the college in 1990. She died of congestive heart failure at the age of 86 on February 21, 2007.


For more information about Rose Carney, please see the following sources:

Rose Carney's Timeline
1920 Apr 30th Born in Chicago, Illinois.
1938 Graduated from Visitation High School.
1942 Earned her B.S. in physics from DePaul University.
19421943 Worked at the Chicago Met Lab.
1943 Received her master's degree from DePaul University.
1948 Became a professor at St. Procopius College.
1961 Received her Ph.D. from Illinois Institute of Technology.
19601981 Served as the Head of the Mathematics Department at St. Procopius College.
19701981 Served as the Chair of the Science Department at St. Procopius College.
1978 Secured a $250,000 Comprehensive Assistance for Undergraduate Science Education (CAUSE) program grant from the National Science Foundation.
1990 Retired from the College after forty-two years of service.
2007 Feb 21st At the age of eighty-six, died of congestive heart failure in Lisle, Illinois.

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