As they say being a woman is hard in this world. In a male dominated society, creating a niche for oneself is indeed a herculean task. The history of women in science is often a tale of unrecognised talent, overpowering male prejudice and tragic circumstances. Most of these talented women didn`t get their well deserved recognition instantly but it arrived several years later. The world would not have been the same without the contributions of these female scientists such as- Marie Curie,Ada Byron, Rosalind Franklin,Lise Meitner, Dorothy Hodgkin etc. Even today, a whole new group of female scientists are trying to make a difference in this world. Let`s have a look at some of them and appreciate their efforts.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
She is credited with one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the twentieth century whilst completing her postgraduate studies. A professor at Oxford University, she is an astrophysicist who has worked in all areas of the electromagnetic spectrum, observing new sources from radio frequencies to high energy gamma rays. Born in Ireland in 1943, she spent her graduate years in Cambridge helping to develop a new radio telescope that used a system of antennas rather than a dish. While using this telescope, she received an unidentified signal which she theorized where “little green men.” However, the signal was soon discovered to be a natural source. She then received huge notoriety for discovering the first ever radio signal. These objects, first noticed by Jocelyn Bell, became known as pulsars.
Her biographer called her “the woman who redefined man,” Jane changed the perceptions of the connections between primates and people. Born in 1937, she travelled to Tanzania at the age of 23 to enter the world of the chimpanzee bringing little more than a notepad and binoculars. With patience, she was able to enter the world of the chimpanzee, be accepted as one of them, and learn more than ever imagined.
She is the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discoveries in telomere biology that have uncovered a new understanding of normal cell functioning and given rise to a growing field of inquiry. Dr. Blackburn is currently the Morris Herzstein Endowed Chair in Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.
Carolyn Widney is an American molecular biologist. She discovered the enzyme telomerase in 1984, when she was a graduate student of Elizabeth Blackburn at the University of California, Berkeley. Greider pioneered research on the structure of telomeres, the ends of the chromosomes. She was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak, for their discovery that telomeres are protected from progressive shortening by the enzyme telomerase.
Shirley Ann Jackson
An African-American woman, Shirley was born in Washington, D.C. in 1946. In 1964, she entered MIT as one of less than 20 black students and the only to study theoretical physics. In 1973, she became the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate degree from the institution where she worked on elementary particle theory. Her subsequent work earned her various prizes, and she was described as “the ultimate role model for women in science” by “Time” magazine. Currently, she is the president of the prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Linda B. Buck
Linda Brown Buck is an American biologist best known for her work on the olfactory system. She was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, along with Richard Axel, for their work on olfactory receptors. In their landmark paper published in 1991, Buck and Axel cloned olfactory receptors, showing that they belong to the family of G protein-coupled receptors. By analyzing rat DNA, they estimated that there were approximately one thousand different genes for olfactory receptors in the mammalian genome. This research opened the door to the genetic and molecular analysis of the mechanisms of olfaction.
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard in Magdeburg is a German biologist. She won the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1991 and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995, together with Eric Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis, for their research on the genetic control of embryonic development.