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8 Women Who Changed Science Forever

For national Women’s History Month, I wanted to bring to light some women who changed the face of science forever. Being a woman in the STEM field can be often be difficult, and it is important to recognize women making strides in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)

Ada Lovelace was born in 1815 in London, England. Lovelace was an English Mathematician and writer who is considered to be the first computer programmer. She was the first person to publish a computer algorithm in the 1800’s. Lovelace’s computing and mathematical talents led to close friendship with Charles Babbage who is known as the “father of computers.”

Marie Curie (1867-1934) 

Marie Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland. Curie was a French physicist and chemist who discovered radioactivity and the radioactive elements polonium and radium. Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to be awarded the prize twice! 

Katherine Johnson (1918-2020) 

Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician. Johnson was an employee of NASA and her calculations of orbital mechanics played an instrumental role in sending the first group of Americans into space. Hidden Figures became a popular movie in 2016 where they depicted her story. 

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Rosalind Franklin was born in London, United Kingdom and was a chemist. Franklin’s discovery of the double helix DNA structure was monumental to science. Her male colleagues received the Nobel Prize after she passed away, but some believe that even if she had been alive her work might have been overlooked due to sexism in the STEM field. 

Vera Rubin (1928-2016) 

Vera Rubin was an American astronomer. Vera discovered the existence of dark matter. She also discovered galaxy rotation rates and predicted angular motion of galaxies. Many believe that Rubin should have been awarded a Nobel Prize for her revolutionary findings. 

Gladys West (1930-today)

Gladys West is an American mathematician. She contributed to the mathematical modeling of the shape of the earth, also known as GPS technology. She also worked on the development of the satellite geodesy models. She was inducted into the Air Force Hall of fame in 2018 for her incredible work. 

Tsuneko Okazaki (1933-today) 

Tsuneko Okazaki is a Japanese scientist, who alongside her husband, discovered small fragments that contributed to the science behind DNA replication. After their research and discovery, scientists decided to call the small fragments Okazaki fragments. She received the Person of Cultural Merit award in Japan in 2015

Flossie Wong-Staal (1947-2020) 

Flossy Wong-Staal was a Chinese-American virologist and molecular biologist. She was a member who identified HIV as the cause of AIDS. She was the first person to determine the functions of the HIV genes and clone HIV. 

I am a sophomore at DU with a major in Biochemistry and a minor in Human Health Systems and Sciences. I love doing research in my lab, hanging out with friends, and dancing!
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