Lucia de Brouckère, a chemist who left her mark on science
Engaged as much with her students as with the general public, Lucia de Brouckère was the first Belgian woman to teach chemistry.
Daughter of the famous socialist politician Louis de Brouckère, Lucia de Brouckère was born in Saint-Gilles in 1904. She spent part of her childhood in Belgium, but the family fled ton England when the First World War broke out. The young Lucia continued her studies there. In 1923, after returning to Belgium, she decided to study chemistry at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Lucia was inspired by Daisy Verhoogen, who was the Head of Works - the highest position a woman could hold at the time. In 1927, Lucia obtained her doctorate and even received the Stas Prize from the Royal Academy of Belgium for her thesis.
However, she didn't leave the university sphere. First an assistant, she was subsequently a lecturer in Ghent, then became the first woman to teach in a Faculty of Science in Belgium, before finally teaching at the ULB. During the Second World War, the young professor went once again to London, before returning to our flat country and completing courses in general chemistry, analytical chemistry and physical chemistry. Lucia embarked on a thorough re-organisation of the department at the ULB. She wanted to give practical work-oriented training to her students, as well as bring in young teachers who had been trained abroad,... In short, Lucia wanted to ensure her students were good scientists, but that they were also free-spirited. "We need men and women who take every opportunity to improve and expand their knowledge."
Her research won her the Wetrems Prize in 1953. At the same time, she sat on various bodies, including the FNRS, the Belgian Chemical Society, the University Foundation and many others.
A young woman also engaged outside the University
In the 1930s, Lucia was at the forefront of the fight against the rise of the extreme right, and she went on to become the first president of the World Committee of Women Against War and Fascism. Throughout her life and until her death on 3 November 1982, she defended freedom, democratic thought, free enquiry, the recognition of secularism and women's rights.
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