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Ph.D. Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1911
Lefschetz was born in Moscow, Russia, studied in Paris, France, and came to the U.S. in 1905. Before he entered academia he worked at the Baldwin Locomotive Works, then for Westinghouse Electric Company in Pittsburgh, where he lost both his hands in a laboratory accident.
Lefschetz was an instructor of mathematics first at the University of Nebraska and then at the University of Kansas before going to Princeton University in 1924, where he made the Princeton department world class. He became internationally recognized as a leader in the fields of algebraic geometry and topology, and was awarded the AMS Bôcher Memorial Prize in 1924 for his paper, "On certain numerical invariants with applications to Abelian varieties," Transactions of the AMS (Vol. 22, 1921, pp. 407-482), and he was awarded the AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize in 1970. Lefschetz was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.