Science Women | Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin was a British chemist who played an important role in the discovery of the structure of DNA  and X-ray diffraction.

At age 15 Franklin decided she wanted to be a scientist after showing exceptional intelligence especially in the science discipline. In 1938, she enrolled at Newnham College in Cambridge to study chemistry where she was awarded second class honors on her finals.

In 1946, Franklin began working in Paris with crystallographer Jacques Mering, who taught her X-ray diffraction which she would use later in her discovery of the structure of DNA. While working as a research associate at King’s College London in biophysics, Franklin used her knowledge of X-ray diffraction on DNA fibers.

It was during this time Franklin, along with one of her students, discovered there were two forms of DNA, for “A”the dry form, and form “B” the wet form. One particular picture known as Photograph 51, acquired through 100 hours of X-ray exposure was of the “B” form of DNA that became famous for identifying the double helix structure of DNA.
Franklin also performed important work on RNA, coal, and viruses, much of which was acknowledged during her lifetime, while her work on DNA wasn’t generally¬† recognized until after her death.

Rosalind Franklin died on April 16, 1958 at the age of 37 from ovarian cancer.

 

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