Did you know the first female state senator in the United States was a Mormon suffragist doctor who ran against her polygamist husband for a legislative seat? As a Utah senator, Martha Hughes Cannon used her scientific and medical background to author early sanitation laws and found the State Board of Health.
In correlation with National Chemistry Week, the Education in Zion Gallery is hosting an exhibition in the Joseph F. Smith Building titled “Famous Mormon Scientists.”
“I want [attendees] to learn a little bit about the science that was done. Also, the fact that they’re all really cool Mormons,” gallery educator Morgan Farnsworth said. “Amazing scientific discoveries can be made, and all the rules and laws of science can still exist in a person’s mind [along] with extremely great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The exhibit features the stories and accomplishments of 10 LDS scientists including Philo T. Farnsworth, James E. Talmage, Russel M. Nelson, and CPMS Associate Dean Jennifer Nielson.
Each scientist’s contributions were noteworthy in their own way, and the displays provide insight into the lives of the humans behind those successes.
“Joseph Kelly Nicholes amazes me,” Farnsworth said.
Nicholes was a chemist who served as president of Dixie Junior College and later chaired BYU’s Chemistry Department from 1945-1955.
“In the special collections of the library you can physically hold his Bio 100 and Chem 100 notebooks. You can see the notes he took, the grades he got, and the doodles in his notebook,” Farnsworth said. “That’s where he started—just like the rest of us—and then he becomes the head of the Chemistry Department.”
In addition to the gallery exhibit, National Chemistry Week was celebrated across BYU campus with a symposium lecture, student research poster presentations, liquid nitrogen ice cream sales, and the always popular chemistry “magic shows.”
“As Latter-day Saints, we know that spiritual laws and the laws of science don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” Farnsworth said. “In fact, they work together.”
Gallery visitors will have the opportunity to view the exhibition until November 3, learning more about the incredible LDS men and women who strengthened the bond between spirituality and science.
—James Collard, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences