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Magdalena Kapuścińska

Magdalena Kapuścińska, photography by Błażej Sendzielski
 

Magdalena Kapuścińska was born in 1964 in Łódź, where she spent her childhood. She is a chemist and after defending her doctoral thesis she worked at the Institute of Precision Mechanics. Her husband, Jan Kapuściński, was also a chemist and worked as an assistant professor at the Łódź University of Technology. In 1968, he lost his job at the university because he interceded on behalf of one student who had been relegated from the university due to political reasons. After being fired from the university, Jan Kapuściński started working on DNA under the academic supervision of professor Mirosław Mąkosza from the Chemical Technology Department of the Warsaw University of Technology. He did not cease his opposition activities and in 1969 he was arrested. In 1971, after being released from prison, he received an invitation to work with the New York University. In 1978, Jan Kapuściński emigrated to the US and one year later his wife, Magdalena Kapuścińska, joined him.

After arriving to the US, Magdalena had difficulties in finding a job. After having undergone a training program at the Brooklyn University of Technology, she was invited to continue her research and she commenced a PhD program. Soon, Magdalena Kapuścińska started publishing her scientific papers and the professor overseeing her research recommended her to several companies. Magdalena was employed at the Texaco Research Centre where she had been working for many years.

At the beginning of her emigration in New York, when Magdalena was looking for a job, Jan Kapuściński offered her to volunteer at the Józef Piłsudski Institute of America, an organization handling archiving documents describing the history of Poland and Polish diaspora. Magdalena Kapuścińska had been working at the institute for a long time, being the member of the board, and between 2008 and 2016 she was the president of the institute.

In 1989, Magdalena Kapuścińska received the Salute to Women in Industry award given by the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association).

In 1993, Jan Kapuściński decided to go back to Poland. He was employed at the intercollegiate faculty of the University of Gdansk. In 1998, Magdalena joined him. While being in Poland, she decided to compile her mother’s reminiscence. Later, she published them as “Przeminęło z wojnami” (Gone with the wars).


Interviewed by Karolina Łukasiewicz and Ewa Dżurak on 7th October 2015 in New York City under the "Greenpoint. The Transition 2015” project. More at cultureshock.pl.

interview excerpts
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Jan Kapuściński - a chemist and a member of the opposition
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Scientific work in the US
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"I was really glad that my work could be applied"
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A trip across America
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“Polish diaspora? It depends what Polish diaspora you’re talking about”
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An American dream template
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Unnecessary lottery
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