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Famous Female Scientists

Updated on October 22, 2011

Science has really changed the shape of this Earth. But science couldn't prosper without the contributions of researchers and scientists. Throughout the ages many genius minds have contributed in the technological evolution of this planet.

The most drastic scientific changes also known as the industrial revolution took place few centuries back. Many male scientists became prominent during this era.

But not just men, in fact many genius women also played a major role in this revolution and contribution to science. Here are some of the most famous female scientists of both the modern and the olden times:

Marie Curie

Marie Sklodowska Curie was born on November 07, 1867, in Warsaw, Poland. She was a physicist, chemist and first female professor at the University of Paris.

Marie Curie
Marie Curie

She contributed in the field of radioactivity and was the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes; onein physics and the other in chemistry.

In Paris, she obtained her further degrees and carried out scientific work. Curie Institute in Warsaw and Paris was founded by Marie Curie herself. Her husband Pierre Curie, daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and son-in-law Frédéric Joliot-Curie were also honored Nobel prizes.

She worked on the theory of radioactivity, techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes and discovered polonium and radium. She directed the first ever studies about the treatment of cancers using radioactive isotopes. In 1932 she founded Radium Institute in Warsaw. She died on July 04, 1934.

Maria Goeppert Mayer with King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden.
Maria Goeppert Mayer with King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden.

Maria Goeppert Mayer

Maria Goppert was born in Poland at the city of Kattowitz in the year 1906. She was a mathematician and physicist and on her work on the nuclear shell structure was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

She started by studying mathematics, but changed her course of study to physics. She got her doctorate in 1930. She got married to Joseph E. Mayer, an American student in 1930 and migrated to the United States.

They had two children; one of them became an astronomer and other an assistant professor of economics.

Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

Rachel Louise Carson was born on May 27, 1907 on a farm in Pennsylvania. Her first story was published when she was 10 years old but she became a permanent nature writer in the 1950s.

She was a marine biologist and a writer who wrote on nature. Her career started off as a biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. She wrote books like; The Sea around Us, The Edge of the Sea, Under the Sea Wind.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter. Finally she died on April 14, 1964.

Gertrude Belle Elion
Gertrude Belle Elion
A portrait of Alessandra Giliani.
A portrait of Alessandra Giliani.

Gertrude Belle Elion

Gertrude Belle Elion was born on January 23, 1918. She was born in New York City and graduated from Hunter College in 1937 and New York University in 1941. She also worked as a lab assistant and a school teacher.

She was an American biochemist and pharmacologist, and received Nobel Prize in 1988 in Physiology or Medicine.

Her other awards included the National Medal of Science, 1991 and the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award, 1997.

Elion developed a large number of new drugs, using inventive research methods that later would lead to the maturity of the AIDS drug AZT.

In her whole career, she never had a PhD but received two of honorary PhD degrees; one from Polytechnic University and other from Harvard University.

Elion discovered:

  • The first treatment for leukemia by a 6-mercaptopurine
  • The first immuno-suppressive agent for organ transplants, Azathioprine
  • Medicine for gout a Allopurinol,
  • Medicine for malaria, Pyrimethamine
  • Invention for meningitis, septicemia, and bacterial infections of the urinary and respiratory tracts, Trimethoprim
  • For viral herpes a Acyclovir

Alessandra Giliani

Alessandra Giliani was born in 1307. She was an Italian anatomist, being a preparer of dissections for anatomical study.

She had assisted one of the Professors in University of Bologna, Mondino De’ Luzzi. She developed a technique to drain out blood from a dead body and substituting it with a colored dye which solidifies.

She died on March 26, 1326.

Rosalind Franklin
Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Elsie Franklin was born on 25 July 1920 and died on 16 April 1958. She was a British biophysicist, chemist, physicist, X-ray crystallographer and biologist.

She had made various contributions towards the study of molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal and graphite. Apart from this she worked on X-ray diffraction images of DNA. In 1953, her data was used by Crick and Watson in a hypothesis relating to the structure of DNA.

She directed the pioneering work on the tobacco mosaic and polio viruses. She had ovarian cancer and died at the age of 37 due to its complications.

Jane Goodall
Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall

Dame Jane Morris Goodall was born on 3 April 1934. She is a British primatologist, anthropologist and ethnologist. She had also served as UN messenger of peace.

She is known as the world's leading expert of chimpanzees, and had studied social life of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania for 45 years.

Apart from this she is also the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and had worked greatly on preservation of animal welfare.


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    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 5 years ago from Atlanta metropolitan area, GA, USA

      Nice article--you did some good research on this one!

    • profile image

      Shazam 6 years ago

      Thanks it was abig help

    • profile image

      Shalima Binta Manir 6 years ago

      this article is inspiring for the woman.Thanks

    • jamiesweeney profile image

      jamiesweeney 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Very informative hassam. Thanks for sharing them.

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      wally 6 years ago

      awsome scientists

    • hassam profile image

      hassam 7 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks! :)

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 7 years ago

      Nice Hub - Jane Goodall was a nice choice - brings back memories of Gorillas of the mist. Madame Curie would have to be the one I am most familiar with.

    • profile image

      andhra history 7 years ago

      Good article... very informative.. Thank you.