Martha P. Haynes decided to be a scientist at the age of fourteen, when she fell in love with a small reflecting telescope that her older brother had borrowed her money to buy. She is currently a specialist in radio and radar astronomy at Cornell University, serving as the Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy.
Haynes graduated from Wellesley in 1973 with a B.A. in astronomy with special honors. Before going to graduate school at Indiana University, she spent a summer at a radio observatory facility in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, where she developed a strong interest in radio astronomy. In graduate school, she met and married Italian-born astronomer Ricardo Giovanelli in 1977. She finished her Ph.D. in 1978, completing her thesis research at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, VA. She then accepted a position as a research associate at the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, operated by Cornell University, in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
In 1981, Haynes returned to Virginia to work at the NRAO as the assistant director, and she soon joined the faculty of the department of astronomy at Cornell University. She collaborates with her husband, and their work has produced three-dimensional models of the universe, which contribute to understanding of how and when galaxies form. Hayes and her husband received the National Academy of Sciences’ Henry Draper Medal in 1989 for their work in astronomical physics. She is the second woman to receive this award; the first female recipient was another Wellesley alumna, Annie Jump Cannon, class of 1884.
Hayes was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999 and was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2000.
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