GOEPPERT-MAYER, Maria (1906-72), German-American physicist and Nobel laureate, best known for her study of nuclear structure. Goeppert-Mayer was born in Poland and educated at the University of Göttingen. In
1931 she married the American physicist Joseph E. Mayer (1904-83) and went with him to the U. S., becoming a U.S. citizen in 1933. She taught at several institutions before joining (1960) the faculty of the University
of California at San Diego. She shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in physics and was cited by the Nobel committee for her independent work in the late 1940s, in which she demonstrated that the atomic nucleus has a structure
containing successive proton-neutron shells held together by complex forces.