Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1903. In 1911 she became the first person of either gender to win a second Nobel Prize.
Marie Skłodowska Curie (1867 – 1934) was a physicist and chemist of Polish upbringing and, subsequently, French citizenship. She was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes (physics in 1903 and chemistry in 1911), and the first female professor at the University of Paris.
She was born Maria Skłodowska in Warsaw (then Vistula Country, Russian Empire; now Poland) and lived there until she was 24. In 1891 she followed her elder sister Bronisława to study in Paris, where she obtained her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw. Her husband Pierre Curie was a Nobel co-laureate of hers, and her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and son-in-law Frédéric Joliot-Curie also received Nobel prizes.
Her achievements include the creation of a theory of radioactivity (a term coined by her), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two new elements, polonium and radium. It was also under her personal direction that the world's first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms ("cancers"), using radioactive isotopes.
While an actively loyal French citizen, she never lost her sense of Polish identity. She named the first new chemical element that she discovered (1898) "polonium" for her native country, and in 1932 she founded a Radium Institute (now the Maria Skłodowska–Curie Institute of Oncology) in her home town Warsaw, headed by her physician-sister Bronisława.
If the work of Maria Skłodowska–Curie helped overturn established ideas in physics and chemistry, it has had an equally profound effect in the societal sphere. In order to attain her scientific achievements, she had to overcome barriers that were placed in her way as a woman in both her country of origin and her adoptive country.
This aspect of her life and career is highlighted in Françoise Giroud's Marie Curie: A Life, which emphasizes Skłodowska's role as a feminist precursor. She was ahead of her time, emancipated, independent, and in addition uncorrupted. Albert Einstein is said to have remarked that she was probably the only person who was not corrupted by the fame that she had won
Madame Curie was decorated with the French Legion of Honor. In Poland, she had received honorary doctorates from the Lwów Polytechnic (1912), Poznań University (1922), Kraków's Jagiellonian University (1924) and the Warsaw Polytechnic (1926).
The Curies' elder daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for discovering that aluminium could be made radioactive and emit neutrons when bombarded with alpha rays. (info from Wikipedia)