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Student years at University of Cambridge, 1919-1923; move to Harvard University in 1923, and subsequent career. Comments on being a woman studying physics at Cambridge in the 1920s; influences of Ernest Rutherford, Arthur Eddington and Edward Milne on her career choice; some of her early research. Move to Harvard (inspired by lecture by Harlow Shapley). At Harvard, work (virtually alone) on stellar spectra; encouragement of Shapley and Annie J. Cannon. Publications on stellar atmospheres and variable stars; anecdotes about including E.C. Pickering, Henry N. Russell, Raymond S.
Discusses her childhood and education; her developing interest in astronomy; studying with C. C. L. Gregory at the University of London Observatory and University College; her thesis work on the variations in Gamma Cassiopeia; meeting and marrying Geoffrey Burbidge; discrimination against women in the Carnegie Followships; the conflict between her work and having a family; the decision to go to the U.S.
Centers on National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) career but includes early life, professional training at Swarthmore College and University of Chicago; staff position at Yerkes Observatory, work and relations with William Morgan, and later the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Identifies development of astronomical interests at NASA, early advocates of space astronomy, and the evolution of the NASA astronomy programs and relationships with other space interests at Kitt Peak, National Science Foundation (NSF),and elsewhere.
Family background, childhood and education up through college, all in Indiana; her graduate study, first at Battle Creek College (M.A.), then at the University of California under J. Robert Oppenheimer, Ph.D. 1933; also attended University of Michigan Summer Symposium in Theoretical Physics, 1929. Between her Ph.D. and her first college faculty position (Connecticut College for Women, 1937-1938) she held postdoctoral fellowships at University of California, Bryn Mawr College and the Institute for Advanced Study.
Topics discussed include: Jeffrey's education at the University of Cambridge; Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin; Werner Heisenberg; Paul Dirac; Erwin Schrodinger; Douglas Hartree; Kapitza Club; her research in quantum theory; Maria Goeppert Mayer; George Gamow; Edward Milne; Lev Landau; her husband Sir Harold Jeffreys and his work.