This month is Women’s History Month and today I will be discussing one of the most important and underappreciated women in the field of science – Rosalind Franklin.
Rosalind Franklin, also referred to as “the dark lady of DNA '' and the “forgotten heroine”, was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who mainly focused on the studying and understanding of molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite. While Franklin had recognition based on her work in coal, there's one accomplishment she made that goes largely unnoticed: the discovery of DNA.
After graduating from Newnham College, Cambridge in 1941 and later a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, Franklin joined a team of scientists including Maurice Wilkins. There she was able to discover and take the first photograph of the key properties of DNA which led to further studies into the double helix structure that we all know today by Watson, Crick, and Wilkins for which they won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.
While she was never awarded the Nobel Prize for her work in 1962, Watson often remarked that Franklin should have been one of the names recognized with them. He would say that if it weren’t for her, results would have taken longer.
We will never forget the contributions that Rosalind Franklin made towards our understanding of DNA structures. Her work has been influential as there has been a college in her name which is named the “Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science”. If you would like to read more about Dr. Rosaline Franklin and her contributions to modern science, please visit the links below where you can find more information about her works beyond the discovery of DNA.
- Biographical Overview by the National Library of Medicine: https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/spotlight/kr/feature/biographical
- Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Rosalind-Franklin