Sophie Germain (1776-1831):
As a child, Sophie Germain started reading her father’s books on mathematics after French revolutionary fighting made it too dangerous for her to play outside. Germain was 18 when France’s Ecole Polytechnique opened, and because women were not allowed to attend, she borrowed notes from male students. Germain submitted her calculations under a man’s name to the mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange, who ultimately became her mentor. Germain was the first woman to win a prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences for her defining work in elasticity theory. She also shaped contemporary understanding of Fermat’s Last Theorem.