Throughout history, women have made significant contributions to the field of science. Despite facing discrimination and obstacles, these women have broken down barriers and paved the way for future generations of female scientists. March is Women’s History Month and what better time to celebrate the women who have made science history!
Rosalind Franklin was a British chemist and X-ray crystallographer who made critical contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA. Her X-ray crystallography images were used by James Watson and Francis Crick in their 1953 model of the DNA molecule, which earned them the Nobel Prize. Unfortunately, Franklin did not receive credit for her contributions until after her death.
Marie M. Daly
Marie Daly was an American biochemist who became the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States. She was also known for her research on the effects of cholesterol and the role of the circulatory system in heart attacks.
Mae Jemison is an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. In 1992, she became the first African American woman to travel in space, serving as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
Marie Curie was a Polish physicist and chemist who conducted groundbreaking research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and is the only person to have won Nobel Prizes in two different scientific fields (physics and chemistry).
Alice Ball was an African American chemist who developed the first effective treatment for leprosy, a disease that had previously been considered incurable. She died at a young age, but her research paved the way for future treatments.
Tu Youyou is a Chinese scientist and medical researcher who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015 for her discovery of artemisinin, a drug that has significantly reduced the mortality rates of malaria worldwide. She received her education at Peking University Medical School and the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where she specialized in herbal medicine. In the early 1960s, Tu was recruited to work on a secret project to find a cure for malaria, a disease that was prevalent in China at the time. She and her team scoured ancient Chinese medical texts, searching for plants that might contain anti-malarial properties. After years of research, Tu identified artemisinin, a compound derived from the sweet wormwood plant. Artemisinin could rapidly reduce the number of malaria parasites in the blood, providing an effective treatment for the disease. In 2015, Tu was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her contributions to this discovery.
Katherine Johnson was an African American mathematician who worked for NASA and was instrumental in the success of the first U.S. manned spaceflights. She was also a key figure in the development of the first computer programs used by NASA.
Sally Ride was an American astronaut, physicist, and the first American woman to travel to space. Ride made her first trip to space on June 18, 1983, as a crew member on the space shuttle Challenger. She was the first American woman and the third woman overall to travel to space. During the mission, Ride operated the shuttle’s robotic arm and helped to deploy communication satellites.
Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist and author, best known for her groundbreaking book, “Silent Spring,” which exposed the dangers of pesticides, particularly the insecticide DDT, on the environment, and on human and wildlife health. The book caused a stir in the scientific and political communities and is credited with sparking the modern environmental movement. “Silent Spring” led to a ban on the use of DDT in the United States and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970.
Caroline Herschel was a German-born British astronomer who made significant contributions to the field of astronomy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She worked with her brother William. Together, they made many important discoveries, including the discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781. Caroline Herschel also made significant contributions to the field of astronomy on her own. She discovered several comets, including Comet 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, and was the first woman to be paid for her scientific work, when King George III granted her a salary for her work as an assistant to her brother.
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