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Alma J. Murphy Scholarship

Dr. Alma J. Murphy was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 9, 1920. She grew up during the Depression in a large family where the sons were the dominant force among the children.

She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Miami Unviersity in Ohio. She then served on the front lines of combat in Europe during World War II. She served in the medical corps as a physical therapist serving not only wounded American troops, but was ordered to care for the Nazi officers who were on trial at Nuremberg at the end of the war.

She returned to the University of Michigan and worked as a physical therapist. She became well known for her work on polio patients who survived by being in the “Iron Lung”. She saved many lives and helped many people walk again. Alma then decided to go back to school to get an advanced degree in physiology.

She enrolled at the University of Iowa to pursue her Doctorate degree. Because of her work in nuerophysiology with polio patients she elected to study the neurophysiology of muscle and lung tissue, and the thermal effects of microwave diathermy on muscle tissue. This led to Alma Murphy essentially discovering and investigating the initial uses of the microwave which were then taken by her superiors to Amana Corporation. Thus the commercial microwave oven was produced.

Alma Murphy succeeded with her doctorate degree and eventually taught at several medical schools and continued her physiology reserach. She was very active with all students, but especially with the female students in helping them to achieve their highest potential. She was also very active with the Girl scouts organization. She fixed her own cars, built sailboats, and remodeled her homes. She loved her dogs and was an active member of the Camai Dog Club in Anchorage.

Alma Murphy succeeded with her education and career at a time when it was very difficult for women to do so. She achieved many things for herself, but she always put other people first in her caring for them. She was an independent outdoorswoman who loved camping, canoeing, sailing, and rockhounding. She wanted very much to see other young women also reach their highest potential and enjoy life to its fullest capacity.

Dr. Alma J. Murphy died in 1995. Her legacy will live on with the support of this scholarship, so that more women will have their own opportunities to help human society become more caring, loving, and peaceful.


If you are interested in supporting students through the student opportunity fund this donor supports, please note the UAA scholarship name within the gift designation section at: Donate Now.