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8 Women to Inspire You This Semester

Written by Jessica Martin

Dorothy Hodgkin - Working as a British chemist, Hodgkin won the Nobel prize in 1964 for her advancements in x-ray crystallography. Using her techniques, she found the atomic structures for cholesterol, penicillin and vitamin B12. Later in her career, she determined the structure for insulin which transformed how diabetes was treated.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson - As an English woman in the 1800s, Anderson wished to become a doctor but was shunned by medical schools and nursing programs. Despite all of the adversity she faced, she got her medical degree in Paris after teaching herself French. She continued on to be influential in the legalization of female doctors in England in 1876 and went on to be the first female mayor in England.

Grace Hopper - Hopper was one of the first women to obtain a PhD in mathematics and worked alongside the US army in WW2 to program the first functional computers (Mark I & Mark II). She also coined the term “debugging” after removing a moth that was disrupting the computer’s processing.

Lise Meitner - Meitner discovered nuclear fission along with her partner Otto Hahn, however Hahn accepted a Nobel prize alone in 1945 accepting all credit for both of their work. Using her knowledge of fission, she would later go on to help with the creation of the atomic bomb. Meitner also radiationless transition, but was overlooked and Pierre Victor Auger was credited with its discovery two years later.

Gabrielle-Emilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil, marquise du Chatelet - Du Chatelet was a physicist, philosopher and mathematician in the 18th century who challenged famous male physicists such as Newton and Voltaire in their description of kinetic energy. While they believed that an object’s kinetic energy was solely proportional to a moving object’s velocity, du Chatelet proved that an object’s mass was also a factor. Her description of kinetic energy is the one still used to this day.

Jennifer Doudna - Doudna is a modern woman in science as she played a significant role in the development of CRISPR, a method of genetic engineering. This method allows for the eradication/treatment of genetic illnesses such as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease and HIV

Rachel Carson - Carson’s book Silent Spring shed light onto the dangers of using synthetic pesticides which helped spark the modern environmental movement. After publishing her book, she stood strong against harsh criticism from chemical companies.

Jane Goodall - Goodall proved the world wrong when she started her fieldwork with chimpanzees in Tanzania, as women were perceived to be too emotional and fragile to do fieldwork. She was the first to observe chimpanzees making and using tools, and is also a strong advocate for conservation of both animals and their environments.


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