Tag Archives: Female Scientists

Katherine Dexter McCormick; Godmother to the birth control pill

Katharine Dexter was the first woman to get a science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in biology in 1904. The curriculum was research heavy and besides the demanding work, she had to petition the college twice—once for permission to work in chemistry laboratories without a hat and again to be allowed to wear a shorter skirt. The reason for the later—she didn’t want her dress to drag across the unclean floors.  Her plan was to go into medicine. Continue reading Katherine Dexter McCormick; Godmother to the birth control pill

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Rosalind Franklin

If you have as much as heard of ‘DNA’, the name Rosalind Franklin should be synonymous with it. This pioneering scientist played a crucial role in solving one of the great scientific questions of her time, and unfortunately did not live long enough to be given her due.

Rosalind Franklin was a British scientist born in the 20th Century. She graduated with a degree in Chemistry from Cambridge (where she witnessed the appointment of its first ever woman professor Dorothy Garrod), and later joined King’s College, London, where she worked on X-ray crystallography of DNA crystals. It was a time when the greatest minds in Biology and Chemistry were working on one elusive question: what is the structure of DNA? This was particularly important because DNA is the molecule responsible for carrying genetic information; knowledge of its structure would help us understand how this genetic information is carried across generations. Continue reading Rosalind Franklin

Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1983, for her discovery of transposable elements in genetic material. She is the only woman to receive an unshared prize in that category.

They called them “jumping genes.” McClintock, a plant geneticist, discovered that genes could slice themselves out of one place and move to another, thus changing how genes were expressed. Now we know that our predispositions to things ranging from illness to weight gain or loss all depend on how our genetic material decides to express itself. But in 1950, someone said that McClintock’s discovery was like being told that your kitchen could jump into your attic.

Continue reading Barbara McClintock