When we think of great scientists, the first names that come to our mind are Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton. But what about the amazing women scientists who changed the world with their discoveries? This ‘International Day of Women & Girls in Science’ let’s tell you about some of these women, who changed how we see the world of science.
Rosalind Franklin (25 July, 1920 – 16 April, 1958)
Rosalind had an important role in the discovery of the double helix structure of the DNA. Her work and findings of DNA were crucial to the discovery of its structure. She also helped in providing insights into the structure of viruses, which helped to lay the foundation for the study of virology
Marie Curie (7 November, 1867 – 4 July, 1934)
She won the Nobel prize twice for her contribution to physics and chemistry. The first woman to win it and the only one to win it twice! We all know her as the woman who discovered radium along with her husband. But very few know that she discovered Polonium, a rare and highly radioactive metal. Truly a remarkable feat we’d say!
Kamala Sohonie (18 June, 1911 – 28 June, 1998)
Kamala was an Indian biochemist who was the first woman to receive a PhD in science. Her research mainly focused on the effects of vitamins as well as the nutritive values of pulses and other food items consumed by some of the poorest sections of the Indian population. She notably stood against physicist C.V Raman and demanded that she be allowed to work at the Indian Institute of Science.
Ada Lovelace (10 December, 1815 – 27 November, 1852)
Known as the ‘first programmer of the world’, Ada wrote an algorithm for a computing machine back in the 1800s. She provided amazing insights into the analytical engines invented by Charles Babbage. She also went on to theorize a method for the engine to repeat a series of instructions, a process known as looping that computer programs use even today!
Janaki Ammal (4 November, 1897 – 7 February, 1984)
Janaki was an Indian botanist, also the first Indian woman botanist. She leaves her mark in history as a botanist who developed several hybrid crop species still grown today. These include varieties of sweet sugarcane that India could grow itself instead of importing from abroad. She specialized in breeding hybrids of plants and also made significant contributions to genetics.
Vera Rubin (23 July, 1928 – 25 December, 2016)
An American astronomer, Vera discovered the existence of dark matter in galaxies. The discovery brought about a change in the way we think of the universe. and showed us how galaxies bind together. Apart from her observations confirming the theory of dark matter, her enthusiasm for science also motivated many other women to follow in her footsteps.
Chien-Shiung Wu (31 May, 1912 – 16 February, 1997)
Chien was a Chinese-American physicist who developed a process for separating Uranium metal by gaseous diffusion. Her repeated experiments went on to prove that identical nuclear particles do not always act alike. She continued to make significant contributions throughout her life – for which Chien was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1975.
Katherine Johnson (26 August, 1918 – 24 February, 2020)
Johnson was a mathematician who worked for NASA. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to sending the first Americans into space. She also worked on the Space Shuttle and the Earth Resources Technology Satellite. Katherine received the Medal of Freedom – America’s highest civilian honour by President Obama in 2015. She was honoured for her outstanding contributions to mathematics and science.