In honor of #InternationalWomensDay
16 amazing women in science:
• Mary Anning, born in 1799, was a British fossil collector and paleontologist. Her many discoveries (including ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs skeletons) greatly contributed to fundamental changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth.
• Ada Lovelace – mathematician considered to be the world’s first computer programmer for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical generalpurpose computer, the analytical engine. The input was to be provided to the machine via punched cards, and her notes on the engine include what is recognized as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine.
• Marie Curie – pioneer in the field of radioactivity, as well as the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes in both physics and chemistry. Her achievements included a theory of radioactivity, techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium.
• Lise Meitner – Nuclear physicist often mentioned as one of the most glaring examples of women’s scientific achievement overlooked by the Nobel committee. Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission (when one atom splits into smaller parts and releases energy), for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize. In 1997, element 109 was named meitnerium in her honor.
• Emmy Noether, born in 1882 , was a mathematician known for her groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. She was described by Albert Einstein as the most important woman in the history of mathematics, and she revolutionized the theories of rings, fields, and algebras. In physics, Noether’s theorem explains the fundamental connection between symmetry and conservation laws.
• Cecelia Payne, born in 1900, was a British astronomer and astrophysicist. In her 1925 Ph.D. thesis, she showed how to decode the complicated spectra of starlight in order to learn the relative amounts of the chemical elements in the stars. Using this method, Payne was the first person to discover that the universe is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium.
• Barbara McClintock – produced ground breaking research in cytogenetics and developed the technique for visualizing maize chromosomes. Best known for her discovery of transposition and used it to demonstrate that genes are responsible for turning physical characteristics on and off.
• Grace Hopper – computer scientist who developed the COBOL computer programming language. She also popularized the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches after being motivated by an actual moth removed from the computer.
• Rachel Carson – marine biologist, conservationist, and author known for advancing the environmental movement. In her book Silent Spring, published in 1962, she reported the dangers of the synthetic pesticide DDT and it’s effect on wildlife. Carson claimed that it was especially detrimental to birds as the ingestion of the pesticide caused birds to lay thin-shelled eggs that would break prematurely and which resulted in significant population declines.
• Dorothy Hodgkin, born in 1910, was a biochemist who advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography, a method used to determine the three-dimensional structures of biomolecules. She became the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964 and is regarded as one of the pioneer scientists in the field of X-ray crystallography studies of biomolecules.
• Hedy Lamarr, born in 1914, was both a popular Hollywood actress and an inventor. Her most significant contribution to technology was her co-invention of an early technique for frequency-hopping spread spectrum communications which paved the way for today’s wireless communications.
• Rosalind Franklin – biophysicist who contributed to discovering the fine molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal and graphite. Her work on X-ray diffraction images of DNA led to her discovery of DNA double helix and her data was used to formulate Crick and Watson’s 1953 hypothesis.
• Esther Lederberg – microbiologist who devised the first successful implementation of replica plating and helped discover and understand the genetic mechanisms of specialized transduction. These contributions laid the foundation for much of the genetics work done in the latter half of the twentieth century.
• Jane Goodall, born in 1934, is an anthropologist and primatologist known for her extraordinary 55-year study of the interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. During this time she became the only human to have ever been accepted into chimpanzee society.
• Jocelyn Bell Burnell – astrophysicist who discovered the first radio pulsars (signals coming from rapidly rotating neutron stars). Some have called this the “greatest astronomical discovery of the twentieth century.” She made the discovery while under her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish, for which Hewish shared the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics with Martin Ryle, while Bell Burnell was left out despite having observed the pulsars.
• Mae Jemison, born in 1956, is an engineer, physician, professor, former Peace Corps medical officer, and entrepreneur. As a child she dreamed of becoming an astronaut, and in 1992 she accomplished her goal and became the first African American woman to travel in space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Dr. Jemison is also a dancer, holds nine honorary doctorates in science, engineering, letters, and the humanities, and works with The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence on making interstellar space travel possible within the next 100 years.