Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin | Women in Science

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was a Nobel Prize winning chemist who developed protein crystallography. She is responsible for advancing X-ray crystallography, a method for determining a crystals 3D structure.

At age 10, Dorothy became interested in chemistry and crystals and was one of two girls allowed to study chemistry in school. She attended Oxford and Somerville College from 1928-1932, studying chemistry and taking special courses in x-ray crystallography.

Most of Hodgkins working life was spent teaching chemistry courses for the women’s college at Somerville. In 1946 she became a University lecturer and demonstrator, in 1956 a University Reader in X-ray Crystallography, and in 1960 a research professor for the Royal Society.

During research at Cambridge, Hodgkin discovered the potential of X-ray crystallography to determine protein structures and she began researching penicillin in 1942 and vitamin B12 in 1948 and in 1969 she deciphered the structure of insulin.

In 1964, Dorothy became the first British woman scientist to be awarded Nobel Prize in one of the three sciences, for her work with X-ray crystallography and determining the structure of penicillin.