Reaching the Peaks of Science. 90th Anniversary of Prof. Vyda Kęsgailaitė Ragulskienė

The Beginning of the Road

On 4 June, Engineer Mechanic, KTU Professor, Habilitated Doctor of Science in Technology Vyda Kęsgailaitė Ragulskienė would have turned 90. On this occasion, KTU Museum prepared a virtual exhibition revealing the path of the professor’s life and scientific work.

Vyda Ragulskienė was born on 4 June 1931 in Klaipėda. Her father, col. lt. Leonas Kenstavičius-Kęsgaila was a participant in the Lithuanian Wars of Independence and a doctor at the Lithuanian Army. In 1941–1945, he was working as the director of the Red Cross Hospital in Kaunas. In 1945, he was reported by his colleague for hiding persecuted persons at the hospital, arrested and imprisoned in Vorkuta Gulag. The doctor returned to Lithuania only in 1957. His wife Stefanija Kęsgailienė and daughter Vyda were under the guardianship of prof. Vytautas Mošinskis. He provided conditions for Vyda to study at the music school and Kaunas Polytechnical Institute. In 1949, Vyda Kęsgailaitė graduated with a gold medal from the Gymnasium III for Girls in Kaunas and in 1955, she graduated with honours from KPI. Simultaneously, she graduated from J. Gruodis Post-Secondary Music School in 1954.

Wife, Mother, Scientist

In 1955–1956, Vyda Kęsgailaitė was working as an engineering technologist at the factory “Silva”, in 1956–1958, she was working as a lecturer at Kaunas Polytechnical Institute. In 1958, she married a young scientist Kazimieras Ragulskis. In 1958–1960, V. Ragulskienė was a research fellow of the Energy and Electrotechnics Institute at the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. In 1967–1993, she was working at Kaunas Polytechnic Institute (since 1990 – Kaunas University of Technology). In 1965, she defended the dissertation of a candidate (currently – doctor) in technical sciences and in 1973 – the doctoral dissertation (currently – habilitated doctor). V. Ragulskienė was the first woman in Lithuania to defend the doctoral dissertation of technical sciences. In 1977, she was awarded the title of professor. Vyda Ragulskienė conducted research in the area of nonlinear dynamic, mostly vibrocompression, systems. She revealed new phenomena in this field, created the research methodologies and the framework for the creation of the systems operating on new principles. She conducted applied research with her colleagues, created new inventions, equipment and their design methods. Prof. V. Ragulskienė was the author and co-author of 6 scientific monographs, more than 250 scientific papers, more than 80 inventions. Her monograph “Vibrosmūginės sistemos” (“Vibrocompression Systems”) (1974) found a particularly wide resonance in the environment of specialists. She received a national premium, diplomas of exhibitions and medals for her research results in 1983. The prerequisites for success of V. Ragulskienė in research are perseverance, diligence and life and work with one of the most recognised Lithuanian scientists, pioneer of precise vibromechanics, founder of the scientific school with a large number of students, academic K. Ragulskis. Ragulskiai created a harmonious family based on respect and values, raised their sons Liutauras and Minvydas who also became researchers.

Work in Independent Lithuania

While working as an emeritus professor, Vyda Ragulskienė conducted research and devoted a lot of her time to patriotic activities. She translated from the French language the book “Žemaitija” (“Samogitia”) by historian Ch. L. T. Pichel which aroused a lot of interest. Both editions of this book were published in considerably big print runs. The professor dedicated a significant share of her time for the commemoration of the memory of the Lithuanian Army officers who suffered from the occupational regime and the preparation of the multi-volume encyclopaedia of the Lithuanian Army officers of 1918–1953. V. Ragulskienė was the head of the Kaunas City division of the union of the relatives of Lithuanian Army officers who suffered from the occupation regime. V. Ragulskienė devoted a lot of her time to writing a book of local history about her homeland – Dapšiai Village (Židikai Parish, Mažeikiai County), including the moments of her and her family’s life and her research work. Professor Ona Voverienė wrote that the first woman habilitated doctor of technical sciences in Lithuania lifted up all the Lithuanian women to the realm of possibilities for reaching the peaks of science with her diligence, purposeful work, wisdom and recognised results. Prof. V. Ragulskienė stated: “Almost everyone can become a genius. You have to have a strong will, maintain a good physical condition, never stop learning and working, be diligent, never form any negative attitudes, not be distracted, concentrate and be passionate about your goal, your work has to be more important than entertainment.” She revealed her life principles in her memoirs: “Life has to be lived with patriotism, wisdom (science), fairness (honest work), faith (art) and love (sacredness).”

Preserving Memory

Prof. Vyda Ragulskienė died on 4 January 2009. She is buried in Ukrinai Cemetery (Mažeikiai District). Her blessed memory is preserved by her relatives, friends and colleagues. In 2009, the Institute of Science Studies published a book composed by dr. Algimantas Liekis “Professor Vyda Kęsgailaitė-Ragulskienė: 1931–2009” containing the memories of the professor. In the same year, prof. Ona Voverienė published a book “Famous Lithuanian Scientists of the 20th Century” including an article dedicated to prof. V. Ragulskienė. In 2011, the 80th anniversary of prof. Vyda Ragulskienė was commemorated at Kaunas City Museum. In 2019, Irena Tiknevičienė published a book in the English language “Professor Vyda Kęsgailaitė-Ragulskienė: Scientist, Inventor, the First Woman Habil. Dr. of Technical Sciences in Lithuania”.