Dixy Lee Ray (September 3, 1914 – January 2, 1994)
Born Marguerite Ray on September 3, 1914, Dixy Lee Ray spent much of her childhood in the outdoors and by the sea. This early exposure to nature likely contributed to her desire to study zoology, which she later pursued when she received a master's degree in zoology from Mills College in 1938. She then taught science for four years in Oakland, CA before going back to school at Stanford University as a fellow to earn a doctorate in biological science. In 1945, she accepted a position to teach zoology at the University of Washington, where she was the only female member of her faculty. While there, she primarily focused on environmental issues concerning the sea, even leading a research project focused in the Indian Ocean on the ship Te Vega. In 1963, she was appointed the director of the newly built Pacific Science Center in Seattle, which flourished under her direction.
In 1972, she began to transition to politics when President Nixon appointed her to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). After only a year, she became the chairman for the organization, speaking for the expansion of nuclear power plants, as she believed that nuclear power could be made safe. In 1974, the AEC was replaced by a different organization. Ray changed her focus to become the Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs in the State Department. The job lasted a mere six months, at which point she decided to return to her home in Washington. Having returned, she ran for governor as a Democrat and won the election, becoming the first woman to be elected governor in the state of Washington. Still a controversial figure due to her support of nuclear energy, she gained even more enemies while in office, with the phrase "Nix on Dixy" becoming popular on bumper stickers. In 1980, she was defeated in the election and afterward retired to her farm. However, she continued to write and publish her views on science and the environment, right up until her death in 1994.
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