Meet Nancy Segal: Accomplished Twin Researcher

August 08, 2008
Nancy Segal with Diane Sawyer

Nancy Segal with Diane Sawyer

It was former fellow Nancy Segal who first approached AAUW wanting to express her gratitude for her 2003 American Fellowship. As I went about preparing this profile, I came across her book Indivisible by Two: Lives of Extraordinary Twins, which was published in 2005 with the help of the fellowship. As a book lover, I was intrigued and picked it up.

In the evenings and on the bus, I would read the almost unbelievable stories of identical twins with divergent religious beliefs, sexual orientations, and even gender identities. In preparation for the interview I also perused Nancy’s 50-page CV online, which is filled with high-profile media appearances, awards, publications, etc. In fact the same year Indivisible by Two was published, Nancy, a twin herself, was awarded The James Shields Award for Lifetime Contribution to Twin Research and the California State University, Fullerton Outstanding Professor of the Year award.

Nancy Segal recieves the ...

Nancy Segal receives Outstanding Professor Award from CSUF President Milton Gordon

As I dialed her number, I could feel my sweaty palms; however, throughout the interview Nancy was encouraging and understanding, if a little rushed. It’s not hard to imagine a woman of her status being busy.

Nancy’s research didn’t end with the publication of Indivisible by Two; she is currently engaged in a new study about Chinese twins separated at birth. The difference with this study, Nancy explained, is that she will be able to follow the twins from a young age rather than meet them as adults like most of her former subjects. Looking ahead to the next five years, Nancy said she hopes to publish another book.

Her last book-writing experience was so positive in part thanks to the AAUW fellowship, which Nancy says gave her “the freedom to read, write, travel and research.” She expounded, saying there would have been no way to write the book the way she did (spending significant time with each subject and those close to them) without the support of AAUW. In addition to the monetary assistance, Nancy also praised the support she received after the book was completed. The Southern California branch of AAUW helped to organize book talks both in her community and around Southern California.

Nancy offered a few last words of advice to anyone interested in higher education. She said, “Find a topic you really love. If you don’t love it, don’t do it.”

This is article #3 in the Following the Fellows Series.


  1. Neysa says:

    This looks like a great selection for next year’s book list. Our Cedar Fallsk, (IA AAUW-sponsored book group reads about diversity — diversity of every kind. Imagine finding diversity among twins.

    Looking for books to read? Check out the book lists and online articles about current research in educational equity on our Iowa website.

  2. Martha says:

    Thanks for the series on the former fellows. It is important and interesting to find out about the accomplishments of the women whom AAUW has supported. I’m sure many branches would like to keep in touch with people who they have sponsored. Keep the profiles coming!

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