Dr Maria Telkes: Why Was She Known as the Sun Queen? Google Celebrates Her Life

Dr Maria Telkes: She was one of the first pioneers of solar energy and Google is celebrating her works today.

2 min read
Dr Maria Telkes: Why Was She Known as the Sun Queen? Google Celebrates Her Life

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The life of Dr Maria Telkes is being celebrated by the Google Doodle today, on Monday, 12 December. It is important to note that she was one of the first pioneers of solar energy. She firmly believed that the power of the sun could change human lives and she worked towards it. Dr Maria Telkes was the first person to receive The Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award on 12 December 1952. Google is celebrating her life and contributions via a doodle on Monday.

Dr Maria Telkes was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1900. She studied physical chemistry at the Eotvos Lorand University of Budapest. Dr Telkes graduated with a BA in 1920 and received her PhD in 1924. She moved to the United States in the following year and accepted a position as a biophysicist. Google is celebrating her via a doodle.


In 1937, Dr Maria Telkes became a US citizen. She worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a member of the Solar Energy Committee. 

Dr Maria Telkes: Her Life and Works

During World War II, Dr Maria Telkes was called by the US government to help in developing a solar distiller that converted seawater into fresh water. This invention was used by soldiers in the Pacific theatre.

After the war was over, Dr Telkes returned to MIT and became an associate research professor. She and her MIT colleagues worked towards creating habitable solar-heated homes.

However, the design that she developed failed and she was removed from the committee. It is important to note that Dr Maria Telkes never gave up.

After securing private funding from philanthropists in 1948, Dr Telkes created the Dover Sun House in partnership with Eleanor Raymond, who was an architect.


The solar-heated home was a great success. The women were featured in the media and they popularised the term "solar energy" among the masses. Dr Maria Telkes's career was filled with success and innovation.

She created a solar oven design that's used today. To create this, she was commissioned by the Ford Foundation. She helped research solar energy at institutions such as NYU, Princeton University, and the University of Delaware.

Dr Maria Telkes earned more than 20 patents during her lifetime. She also worked as a consultant for many energy companies. Therefore, Dr Telkes is popularly known as The Sun Queen.

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