Laura Bassi


Born: October 31, 1711 in Bologna
Parents: Father was a lawyer
Marriage Status: Married Dr. Giuseppe Veratti in 1738 then had 12
Died: February 20, 1778

Objective To continue learning, teaching and helping others.

Privately educated
Doctor of Philosophy degree from University of Bologna
1731 Professor of anatomy, University of Bologna
17?? Continued to study mathematics and gave private lessons at home

1732 Academy of the Institute for Sciences

* Appointed to the Chair of Anatomy at University of Bologna
* Successfully petitioned for wider responsibilities and a higher salary to cover the cost of equipment for physical and electrical experiments.
* One of first scholars to teach Newtonian natural philosophy in Italy
* At age 65, appointed to the Chair of Experimental Physics at Bologna
* First Female professor of physics at any university


Laura Bassi came from a wealthy family. As a child she was educated at home by the family physician, who was a professor at the university and a member of the Academy of the Institute for Sciences. Bassi studied mathematics, philosophy, anatomy, natural history and languages. She portrayed great ability and soon became an interest to many. After 21 years, she was elected to the Institute Academy and was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Bologna. She was given an official position at the university and continued to study mechanics, hydraulics, anatomy, and natural history. She was later appointed to chair of anatomy and gave lectures to large classes of students.

In 1738, she married Dr. Giuseppe Veratti. While raising a family of 12 children, Bassi continued to give lectures on experimental physics and started private lessons at her home.

Despite her official position at the university, the Senate attempted to restrict her appearances as a lecturer to ceremonial public events and the social circles of the city. She successfully petitioned for wider responsibilities and a higher salary to cover the cost of equipment for physical and electrical experiments.

Bassi was admired for her good character and charity to the poor, as well as for her knowledge in Greek, Latin, French, and Italian. She was not concerned with research and never published. She was however considered a proficient lecturer in physics and anatomy.


1) World Whos Who in Science. First Edition. 1968.
2) Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey. Women in Science: Antiquity through the Nineteenth Century. 1986.
3) Millar, David, Ian, John, and Margaret. The Cambridge Dictionary of Scientists. 1996.

prepared by - Matthew Ruch