Maria Telkes, nicknamed “The Sun Queen”, one of the first pioneers of solar energy who believed the power of the sun could change human lives, is the subject of Monday’s Google Doodle.
Dr Telkes was born on December 12, 1900, in Budapest, Hungary, and studied physical chemistry at Eotvos Lorand University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 1920 and her PhD in 1924. The following year, she relocated to the US and accepted a position as a biophysicist, becoming a US citizen in 1937.
She went on to work as a member of the Solar Energy Committee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). During World War II, the US government asked her to assist in the development of a solar distiller that converted seawater into fresh water.
In 1948, she created the Dover Sun House in partnership with architect Eleanor Raymond. They were featured in the media for the success of the solar-heated home, which popularised the term ‘solar energy’.
She has also assisted in the research of solar energy at prestigious institutions such as New York University, Princeton University, and the University of Delaware. She has over 20 patents and has worked as a consultant for numerous energy companies.
Dr Telkes became the first person to receive The Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award on this day in 1952. She died on December 2, 1995, in the Hungarian capital.