Sister Mary Kenneth Keller

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller was the first person to receive her Ph.D. in computer science. She entered the Sisters of Charity in 1932 and took her vows in 1940. She attended DePaul University and received her bachelor’s in mathematics and an M.S. in mathematics and physics. In 1958 she was the first woman to study mathematics and computers at Dartmouth College. There, she helped to develop the computer programming language BASIC (Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) which, much like Grace Hopper’s COBOL translated binary into a programming language. She then attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison to attain her Ph.D., in May of 1965. That same year, she founded and became the chair of Clarke College’s Computer Science Department. She was there until her death at the age of 71.