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
Mary Somerville was born in Scotland on Dec. 26, 1780, and had four supreme passions in her life: her family, equality for women, science, and birds.
Described as feminine in manner and appearance, as a girl she never cared for dolls. Her mother said she would have been content if Mary had “only learnt to write well and keep accounts which was all that a woman was expected to know.” Mary, however, had a talent for mathematics. She taught herself by listening in on her brother as he was tutored in geometry and by reading Euclid. Continue reading Mary Somerville: A Passion for Science
Madame Marie Slodowska Curie, most commonly known as an inspirational scientist or a ‘genius’, but less famously known for being a deep lover, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a patriot, and once a servant.
The whole world knows that she was the first and only woman to receive two Nobel prizes, but much less is known about the nights Marie had to sleep on a cold floor and skip meals to pay her tuition fees; the nights she filled her empty stomach with enthusiasm for science and the days when her words were shushed before they left her mouth because according to society, her words were only meant to sing lullabies to her children, not to describe the wonders of our universe. This woman was not an ordinary woman meant to become an idealistic housewife or live within the social norms of society or bake pies for her husband; she was born to be struck as a lightning bolt that would revolutionise the world of radioactivity and create scientific history. Continue reading Marie Curie
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