1971

Devised the international standard for measuring tornado severity

The Fujita Tornado Scale, or F-scale, devised by meteorologist Tetsuya “Ted” Fujita in 1971, became the internationally accepted standard for measuring tornado severity.

Tetsuya “Ted” Fujita, the Charles Merriam Distinguished Service Professor in Geophysical Sciences

1972

Soia Mentschikoff, first woman president of the Association of American Law Schools

Home to the first woman president of the Association of American Law Schools

Soia Mentschikoff was elected president of the Association of American Law Schools in 1972 and was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences the same year. The first woman to join the University of Chicago Law School faculty, in 1951, she headed a project that applied quantitative research methods to the study of arbitration decisions. In 1964, she represented the United States at The Hague, where she advocated for a uniform law that would govern international sales and arbitration.

1973

Developed predictor of the value of derivatives

Economists Myron Scholes, MBA’64, PhD'70, and Fischer Black developed an equation that could predict the value of derivatives. The Black-Scholes options pricing model, published in 1973, enabled the growth of futures and options markets and remains key to modern investment strategy.

Nobel laureate Myron Scholes addresses students at Chicago Booth.

1974

A reconstruction of Lucy at the Warsaw Museum of Evolution

Discovered a previously unknown hominin

On a survey in Ethiopia, in 1974, paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson, AM’70, PhD’74, discovered “Lucy,” a 3.2 million-year-old bipedal hominin skeleton that was 40 percent intact. Classified in 1978 as the first known member of Australopithecus afarensis, Lucy is a direct ancestor of the modern human. The discovery changed our understanding of human evolution.

1975

Discovered cancer can be genetic

Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and geneticist Janet Davison Rowley, LAB’42, PhB’45, SB’46, MD’48, discovered the first consistent chromosomal abnormalities associated with cancer in the 1970s, demonstrating a link between cancer and genetics. She later was a key player in the development of the first precisely targeted anti-cancer drug.

Janet Davison Rowley, the Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor in Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, and Human Genetics, in her laboratory

1976

Milton Friedman, the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor in Economics

Introduced the modern monetarist school of economics

Economist Milton Friedman’s examination of the history of US monetary policy led to monetarism, a radical rethinking of the sources of inflation that overturned conventional Keynesian thinking. He showed that the money supply, not government spending, influenced output and the price level. This strongly influenced Federal Reserve policy in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1976, the Nobel Prize committee cited Friedman also for his seminal theory on consumption, which is the precursor to modern models of consumption-savings decisions.

1977

Discovered source of red blood cell formation

Biochemist Eugene Goldwasser isolated erythropoietin (EPO), the hormone behind red blood cell formation. The 1977 discovery led to the development of the first blockbuster drug of the biotech age, which has since treated millions with anemia.

Eugene Goldwasser, the Alice Hogge and Arthur A. Baer Professor in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

1978

Cast of the Laetoli footprints on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC

Identified earliest evidence of early hominids walking upright

Russell Tuttle, a leading expert on early humans, analyzed 3.66-million-year-old footprints discovered in Laetoli, Tanzania, in 1978. He determined that they were left by creatures who walked bipedally in a fashion almost identical to human beings. These “Laetoli footprints” are the oldest evidence that early hominids came down from trees and began walking upright.

1978

Inaugurated the first female president of a major private US university

When historian Hanna Holborn Gray was inaugurated president of the University of Chicago in 1978, she became the first female president of a major private university in the United States. She served for 15 years and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991 for “devoting her abundant talent and energy to the causes of excellence, truth, and freedom.”

Hanna Holborn Gray walks to her presidential inauguration with Robert W. Reneker, chair of the University's Board of Trustees.

1978

Mark Siegler, the Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor in Medicine and Surgery

Pioneered clinical medical ethics

Physician Mark Siegler began teaching clinical medical ethics at the University of Chicago in the late 1970s. The MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, founded in 1984 as the first academic institute dedicated to clinical medical ethics, supports the study of ethical issues raised during everyday care. Its work aims to improve physicians’ skills and performance in decision-making and caring for patients.