March is Women’s History Month! The Baker Company is marking this event by celebrating some of the women who have made significant contributions to science in the past. Below are three female pioneers for modern science: Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin and Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier.
Marie Curie (née Maria Skłodowska) was a Polish physicist and chemist who is known for her huge contributions to finding treatments for cancer. She discovered radium and polonium which were key for developing an understanding of radioactivity and leading the way for the use of radiation in medicine.
Curie led the first research project on the impact of radiation treatment on tumors and headed up the Curie Institute - formerly the Radium Institute - in Paris. The Curie Institute is a non-profit foundation operating a hospital specialized in treatment of cancer in addition to carrying out research on biophysics, cell biology, and oncology.
Marie Curie was the first person, and the only female, to have won a Nobel Prize twice. Additionally, she is the only person to have been awarded Nobel Prizes in two different scientific fields: physics and chemistry.
Rosalind Franklin was a British chemist who discovered the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal and graphite. She used a technique known as x-ray crystallography to reveal the helical shape of DNA during her 3-year research scholarship at King’s College London (KCL). She presented these findings during a lecture at KCL which was attended by James Watson. Watson had been working with Francis Crick on solving the DNA structure. The data discovered by Franklin was then shared with Watson and Crick by one of her KCL colleagues, Maurice Wilkins, allowing them to fill in some of the gaps in their own research.
Unfortunately, Franklin’s work often goes unacknowledged as James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wlikins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for solving the structure of DNA in 1962, 4 years after Franklin died of cancer.
Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier is the mother of modern chemistry. She served as laboratory assistant for her husband Antoine Lavoisier. Using her fluency in Latin, French and English she translated many scientific papers for her husband in order to aid his research.
Translations provided by Mme. Lavoisier led to Antoine Lavoisier discovering and naming the gasses oxygen and hydrogen. Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier was also instrumental in the 1789 publication of Antoine Lavoisier’s Elementary Treatise on Chemistry, which presented a unified view of chemistry as a field.
Prior to her death, she managed to recover the majority of her late husband’s notebooks and chemical apparatuses which are now in a collection at Cornell University.
Many women across the globe continue to build their careers in science today, including here at Baker. We provide the scientific equipment needed to get the most out of scientific research, whilst the Eagleson Institute helps to educate women from the life sciences community and give them the training they need to further their careers.
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