Ursula Martius Franklin 1921-
I came to Canada from Germany in 1949, having just earned my Ph.D. in experimental physics. I joined the University of Toronto's Physics Department, and from there moved to the Ontario Research Foundation. As a Senior Scientist, I worked solving industrial problems by assessing the performance—or failure—of materials. I developed new techniques that allowed me to analyse objects without damaging them.
In 1967 I was appointed to the University of Toronto's Faculty of Engineering, becoming the first woman at the University to teach Metallurgy and Materials Science. In addition to my engineering research, I began to apply non-destructive material analysis techniques to study archaeological finds. The use of modern technologies to study ancient materials, now called archaeometry, grew into a field of its own and I am credited worldwide as one of its pioneers.
I moved through the University of Toronto's professorial ranks, and in 1984 was the first woman to be appointed University Professor. This is the highest honour that the University gives to a faculty member.
Humanitarian, pacifist and feminist issues have always been part of my life and work. As my children grew up, I became increasingly preoccupied with the social impacts of science and technology—writing and speaking widely on the subject. As I expressed in my CBC Massey Lecture, The Real World of Technology, science and technology do not exist in isolation, and their progress affects us all.Back to top