Rosalind Franklin, a brilliant scientist who deserved recognition
Those of you who have heard of Rosalind Franklin probably associate her name with the woman vaguely connected to the work done on DNA by Watson and Crick. She was in fact, a brilliant crystallographer, a dedicated scientist, who made a significant contribution to the field of molecular biology and to the discovery of the Double Helix - structure of DNA
In 1951, she undertook the study of the structure of the DNA molecule as an expert in the field of X ray diffraction.Though DNA was known as the molecule responsible for heredity there were certain facts that eluded researchers regarding its shape. Subsequently, Rosalind Franklin and her Ph.D.student, Raymond Gosling, discovered that DNA exists in two forms (A and B) and that the phosphate units of the molecule were located on the outside. Rosalind also made some significant calculations with respect to the amount of water found in the B form of DNA.
An important finding was “Photo 51” an X-ray diffraction image depicting the B form of DNA. The image was obtained after over 100 hours of X-ray exposure using a machine that Franklin individually calibrated and refined. Her contribution to the discovery of DNA though significant, was not acknowledged sufficiently by the scientists James Watson and Francis Crick who published probably the most famous academic article in the history of science which appeared in Nature
titled "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid". The work secured them (along with Maurice Wilkins), the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.
A few years before , in 1958, Rosalind had died in obscurity at the age of 37, of ovarian cancer.
Would Dr. Rosalind Franklin be remembered differently if she was not a woman in a male dominated profession at the time? I admire her because she is known to have maintained her integrity at all times and continued to produce quality science even after her work on the structure of DNA, leading pioneering work on the tobacco mosaic virus and the polio virus.
Despite her anonymity in scientific circles where in the 1950’s her peers did not recognize her as being equal she remained a true scientist seeking neither fame nor recognition.
This article is my tribute to a brilliant scientist, Rosalind Franklin, on International Women’s day.
I share an earlier post I wrote about Rosalind Franklin – The Dark Lady of DNAhttps://plus.google.com/108612046527316778941/posts/7pbR4fZHxF9http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosalind_Franklin#stemwomen