When she was alive, Rosalind Franklin – who died of ovarian cancer at just 37 years old – was respected for her contributions to our understanding of the molecular structure of coal and viruses. Posthumously, she has become far better known for the part she played in discovering the double-helix structure of DNA, the building blocks of life. Franklin’s male colleagues won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry a few years after her death; there is still debate over whether those men were taking credit for Franklin’s work, and her career has become somewhat symbolic of the sexism women often face in STEM fields.
Rosalind Franklin IS KNOWN FOR...
- Contributing to the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA and RNA
- Working on X-ray diffraction images of DNA at King’s College London
- Observing the molecular structures of coal and graphite
Franklin did exceptionally well in school, topping her classes and excelling at science, Latin, French, German and sports. Music was apparently the only subject she didn’t take to; her weakness in this one area was such that her music teacher, noted composer Gustav Holst, wondered whether young Rosalind might have hearing problems.
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