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Sofia Kovalevskaya was the daughter of an Imperial Russian army officer. She became the sister-in-law of the noted embryologist Alexander Kovalevsky. She made a fictitious marriage in order to be allowed to study abroad, and left Russia in 1867. She went on to establish a lasting reputation for herself as a mathematician and made important original contributions to analysis, differential equations, and mechanics. In 1888, she won the Prix Bordin of the French Academy of Science for her work. After being denied an academic appointment for some years because of her gender, Kovalevskaya was finally employed as a lecturer in Stockholm University in Sweden, and then made a full professor in 1889 -- the first woman to hold such a position in northern Europe. She also contributed important work in astronomy, in particular research into the mysterious rings of the planet Saturn. In addition, Kovalevskaya produced two novels, The Nihilist Girl (1890) and Vera Brantzova (1895), and wrote her autobiography, A Russian Childhood (1878). She died of influenza at age 41. She's been the subject of three TV and movie bio-pics. She was a friend and writing collaborator of Swedish author Anne Charlotte Leffler.
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