Dixy Lee Ray (September 3, 1914 – January 2, 1994) was a scientist who served as the 17th Governor of the U.S. state of Washington. Variously described as idiosyncratic, and "ridiculously smart," she was the state's first female governor and was known for her leadership of the state during the devastating eruption of Mt. St. Helens, for her strident support of atomic energy, and for her personal eccentricities.
A graduate of Mills College and Stanford University, where she earned a doctorate in biology, Ray became an associate professor at the University of Washington in 1957. She was chief scientist aboard the schooner SS Te Vega during the International Indian Ocean Expedition. Under her guidance, the nearly-bankrupt Pacific Science Center was transformed from a traditional, exhibit-oriented museum to an interactive learning center, and returned to solvency.
In 1973 Ray was appointed chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) by President Richard M. Nixon. Under her leadership, research and development was separated from safety programs, and Milton Shaw, the head of the powerful reactor development division, was removed. She was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs by President Gerald Ford in 1975, but resigned six months later, complaining about lack of input into department decision making...
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