Michalina Stefanowska

20.11.1855 – 15.12.1942

Physiologist, biologist, pedagogue

A world-famous nervous system and sensory organs physiologist. The creator of the special education needs schools in Poland during the interwar period.

1883-1889 – studies in Geneva and Paris

1889 – PhD degree

1922 – post-doctoral degree (the first woman awarded a post-doctoral degree at the University of Poznań)

When she returned to Poland, she was already a renowned researcher in the field of the physiology of the nervous system. Her research was highly valued in the academia. She wanted to return to Poland due to patriotic reasons. Even before Poland regained independence, she was giving lectures at the Society for Academic Lectures in Warsaw. It was there that auditing students could fill the gaps in their education in order to go to university.

In 1922 she received a post-doctoral degree from the University of Poznań as the first woman in the history of the school. She also wrote a paper on the physiology of the nervous system. Unfortunately, it was never published due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Regrettably, the only copy was lost during the war.


Main photo - Michalina Stefanowska

Michalina Stefanowska, as the second woman in history after Maria Skłodowska-Curie, was admitted to the Polish Academy of Learning. Before the war it was the biggest Polish corporation gathering researchers. Stefanowska used her knowledge also to help children and youth with special education needs. Thanks to her the first special education needs schools and classes were established in Warsaw.

She was also the author and translator of books for young people including What’s going on in beehives? The life and habits of the honey bee and Life in the ocean. Description of popular sea plants and animals.