Vera Rubin, née Cooper, was born in Pennsylvania to immigrants to the USA, and raised in Washington, D.C. Her father, an electrical engineer, came from Lithuania, and her mother came from Bessarabia. She says she was stargazing from the age of 10 and was inspired by astronomer Maria Mitchell. Rubin earned her bachelor's degree at Vassar College and went for graduate work to Cornell University, where she studied physics under Philip Morrison, Richard Feynman, and Hans Bethe. She completed her master's degree in 1951, making one of the first observations of deviations from the Hubble flow in the motions of galaxies. She did her doctoral work at Georgetown University under advisor George Gamow. After graduation, she taught at Montgomery County Junior College. In 1962, she became an assistant professor at Georgetown. In 1965, she was the first woman allowed to use the instruments at the Palomar Observatory, and obtained a position as astronomer at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. She has been a pioneer in the study of the structure of galaxies, their internal motions, and large-scale motions in the universe, and is credited with proving the existence of dark matter. She also has served as a mentor to many younger astronomers.