Dr. Alexandra Bellow was born in Romania at a time of great conflict and turmoil–during World War II and the years after during Stalin’s rule of the area. Attending high school in the early 1950s was difficult due to the political climate and she found a sort of refuge in mathematics. Bellow explained that she came to feel that mathematics, perhaps more than any other discipline, can endow one with the independence of spirit needed to follow your intellectual pursuits and resist political pressures.
Earning the equivalent of a master’s degree from the University of Bucharest in 1957 she traveled to the United States with her husband, a fellow mathematician. While he participated in a special study at Yale University she earned her doctorate from the school.
Her early work involved properties and consequences of liftings which are used to produce disintegrations of measures and fibrations on Lebesgue measure on the level sets of a function. Writing with her husband, using her married name of A. Ionescu Tulcea, the pair publishing as the “Ionescu Tulceas.” They provided the definitive treatment for the representation theory of linear operators arising in probability.
While at Yale studying under one of the founding fathers of Ergodic theory, Bellow made major contributions in this field including a series of papers that brought about a revival of the area of ergodic theory that deals with limit theorems and the question of point wise a.e. convergence.
During her career she taught at many schools and from 1968 to 1988 was a full professor at Northwestern University retiring with the title professor emeritus. Wanting to thank the school for the opportunities she was given there she made a donation that was used to create the Alexandra Bellow Distinguished Lecture Series in Mathematics. The purpose of the series is to invite world-class mathematicians to come to the school and lecture each year. Bellow hopes that world-class women mathematicians will be represented among the speakers to enhance the position of mathematics at Northwestern but to also raise the visibility of women in the field.
Written by Angela Goad