Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was born on 12th May 1910. She was a scientist & peace campaigner, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Born in Egypt to British parents, Dorothy developed an interest in chemistry at the young age of 10. At school she and one other girl were allowed to join the boys for their chemistry lessons; when no further science education was offered to her she took private tuition to enable her to gain entry to Oxford University.
The work for which she is known, and which earned her the Nobel Prize, was her development and use of X-ray crystallography, which enabled her to discover the molecular structures of natural substances. She helped confirm the structure of penicillin, worked with insulin for over 34 years studying insulin and revealed the structure of vitamin B12.
The accolades awarded to Dorothy don’t stop at her Nobel Prize; she was the second woman ever to receive the Order of Merit (the first was Florence Nightingale – coincidentally also born on this day!), she was the first woman to receive the Copley Medal, awarded by the Royal Society, of which she was a fellow, and in 1985 she also won the Lenin Peace Prize. She has appeared on two stamps! First in 1996 as part of a set released by the Royal Mail of five ‘women of achievement’, and secondly in 2010 as the only woman amongst ten scientists honoured by the Royal Society in a set of stamps issued to celebrate the society’s 350th anniversary.
Fellow Nobel winner, Max Perutz said that Dorothy was “a great chemist, a saintly, gentle and tolerant lover of people, and a devoted protagonist of peace.”
Feature image is by the fantastic Julie Gough of the Ilustrated Women in History tumblr. See more of her brilliant work here.
Find out more:
The Nobel Prize website has more detail about her life here.
Listen to Dorothy talk about her life in this video
Find out more about what X-ray crystallography is in this video: