Women in Science

Women in Science

Acclaimed biologist Rosalind Franklin’s grave in Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery has been given listed status, Historic England announced in marking International Women’s Day this week. Franklin’s tomb commemorates her life and achievements – they include X-ray observations she made of DNA which contributed to the discovery of its helical structure by Crick and Watson in 1953. Meanwhile, Historic England has teamed with The Royal Society to highlight the achievements of 28 remarkable women noted for their achievements in the fields of chemistry, biology, physics and astronomy. The women’s stories have been explored and key historic locations mapped. They include the Marianne North Gallery in Kew Gardens (named for 19th century botanist Marianne North), the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital – founded in 1872 as the New Hospital for Women in London by Anderson, a suffragette and the first English woman to qualify as a doctor, and the Royal Academy of Arts where natural history illustrator and painter Sarah Stone was an honorary exhibitor in the 1780s.

This Week in London – Rosalind Franklin’s grave; American printmaking; and Disabled Access Day at royal residences….

12 incredible women you’ve never heard of who changed science forever

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN




Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World,” by artist Rachel Ignotofsky.

  • 12 incredible women you’ve never heard of who changed science forever

    women in science lego female scientistShutterstock

    Sure, most people have heard of Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin, Jane Goodall and Sally Ride.

    But for every female scientist whose work has been recognized and celebrated, there are thousands who have been accidentally or purposefully forgotten.

    For a few, that might change, thanks to a beautiful new book, “Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World,” by artist Rachel Ignotofsky.

    While she highlights some of the classic women in science, she’s also profiled some less familiar faces — and discoveries.

    Here are a dozen of our favorites.

    Meghan Bartels wrote an earlier version of this post.

    View As: One PageSlides


    Florence Bascom: Helped us understand how mountains form

    Florence Bascom (1862-1945) discovered her love for geology on a childhood trip with her father and a geologist friend of his.

    She worked for the US Geographical Survey, particularly specializing in the Piedmont Plateau between the Appalachians and the Atlantic coastal plain. She was voted one of the top 100 geologistsin 1906 in an edition of a magazine called, ironically, American Men of Science.

    In addition to her research, she also taught several important geologists of the next generation at Bryn Mawr College.

    Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Championed the ecological importance of The Everglades

    Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Championed the ecological importance of The Everglades

    President Clinton talks with Marjory Stoneman Douglas after presenting her with a Medal of Freedom.Doug Mills/AP

    Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890-1998) moved to Miami to write for the Herald, where her father worked. She left to work for the Red Cross during World War I, then returned to the Herald before branching out on her own as a writer.

    She was able to see the value and importance of the Everglades despite finding them“too buggy, too wet, too generally inhospitable.” She wrote a book called “The Everglades: Rivers of Grass,” which raised awareness about the threats the ecosystem faced.

    She successfully led the opposition to an Army Corps of Engineers planthat would have reduced flooding but destroyed the Everglades. In addition to conservation, she also fought for women’s rights and racial justice.

    Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: Figured out what the Sun was made of

    Celia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900-1979) was the astronomer who discovered that the sun is made of hydrogen and helium.

    She went to college in Britain for botany, then attended by chance a lecture given by a prominent physicist, which she found so intriguing she changed fields (the lecturer, Arthur Eddington, became an important mentor for her). She moved across the Atlantic to study at Harvard, where she spent the rest of her career.

    Her dissertation was called “the most brilliant PhD thesis ever written in astronomy.” In addition to our sun, she also studied variable stars, taking more than a million photographs of them with her team.

    Rita Levi-Montalcini: Made a breakthrough in understanding the nervous system


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