Notable People

View a list of Notable People

Ruth Pirret

First Woman To Graduate BSc
Born 24 July 1874, Glasgow, Scotland.
Died 19 June 1939.

A pioneering nuclear chemist whose work with Frederick Soddy shed new light on the disintegration theory of radioactivity.

Connection to the University of Glasgow: GU Degree: BSc, 1898;

Discover more school teachers on the University of Glasgow Story website


The following achievement is associated with Ruth Pirret:

Discovery of Isotopes
The value and use of isotopes in research and their importance in technology and applications to society today would have astounded Soddy.


Ruth Pirret (1874-1939) was the first woman to graduate BSc from the University, in 1898.

Born in Glasgow, Pirret was among the first women to matriculate at the University in 1892. She won eight prizes as a student including Advanced Practical Physiology and graduated BSc in Pure Science on 12 April 1898.

At this time BSc Pure Science students did not designate a principal subject; the subjects she took for her Final Science Examination (equivalent to honours level examinations for the degree of MA) were Mathematics, Chemistry and Physiology.

After teaching at schools in Kilmacolm and Newcastle, Pirret returned to Glasgow in 1909 to work with Frederick Soddy on his research into the chemistry of radioactive elements. She was the second woman (after Anne Louise McIlroy in 1908) to officially register as a research student at the University.

Pirret became Vice Warden of Ashburne House Hall in Manchester before moving to London where she died in 1939.