Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vote for the "most celebrated female scientist of all time"

L'Oréal's For Women in Science Program is sponsoring a new UK website where you can vote for the most influential woman scientist. The candidates span more than a thousand years* and a wide range of scientific specialties:

  • Mary Anning (1799-1847), paleontologist and "the greatest fossilist the world ever knew"
  • Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923), mathematician, electrical engineer and suffragette
  • Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943- ), astrophysicist who discovered the first radio pulsars
  • Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), first woman to graduate from medical school
  • Linda Buck (1947-), biologist who helped figure out how the human olfactory (smell) system works
  • Annie Jump Cannon (1863-1941), astronomer who studied the spectra of the stars
  • Rachel Carson (1907-1964), biologist who campaigned for the environment
  • Gerty Cori (1896-1957), biochemist who studied energy metabolism in the human body
  • Marie Curie (1867-1934), physicist and chemist who studied radioactivity
  • Ann Dowling, professor of mechanical engineering who works on "boys stuff - aeroplanes, submarines and oil exploration"
  • Gertrude Elion (1918-1999), innovative pharmacologist who produced new drugs for leukemia, malaria, and herpes
  • Dian Fossey (1932-1985), expert of the great apes in Rwanda, who was murdered because by poachers
  • Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), X-ray crystallographer whose work was important in determining the structure of DNA
  • Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917), pioneering physician and campaigner for women's rights
  • Sophie Germain (1776-1831), mathematician who was forced to take on the identity of a man
  • Maria Goeppert Mayer (1906-1977), physicist who studied the structure of the atomic nucleus
  • Jane Goodall (1934- ), expert on chimpanzee behavior and advocate for wildlife conservation
  • Alice Hamilton (1969-1970), doctor and social reformer who founded the science of occupational medicine
  • Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), astronomer who discovered comets and stars, first woman (along with Mary Somerville) awarded membership in the Royal Society
  • Grace Hopper (1906-1992), pioneer computer scientist and Rear Admiral in the US Navy
  • Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994), one of the main founders of protein crystallography
  • Hypatia of Alexandria (370-415), mathematician and astronomer who was killed by a mob, who "felt threatened by her scholarship and scientific knowledge"
  • Irene Joliot-Curie (1897-1956), daughter of Pierre and Marie Curie who discovered artificially created radioactivity
  • Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000), actress and inventor of "frequency hopping" method that is used in modern communication technology
  • Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909 - ), biologist who first isolated nerve grown factor
  • Kathleen Lonsdale (1903-1971), crystallographer and first woman elected a Fellow of the Royal Society
  • Ada, Countess Lovelace (1915-1852), founder of scientific computing
  • Barbara McClintock (1902-1992), geneticist who discovered "jumping genes"
  • Anne McLaren (1927-2007), geneticist who "paved the way for development of in vitro fertilisation"
  • Lise Meitner (1878-1968), physicist who described nuclear fission
  • Maria Mitchell (1818-1889), pioneering astronomer
  • Christiane Nusslein Volhard (1942 - ), developmental biologist and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Biology
  • Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), nurse and noted statistician, who was the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society
  • Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900-1979), astronomer who showed the sun is mainly composed of hydrogen
  • Beatrix Potter (1866-1943), respected mycologist and children's book author
  • Emily Roebling (1844-1903), "silent engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge"
  • Nancy Rothwell (1957- ), neuroscientist who studies brain injury
  • Mary Somerville (1780-1872), "the first popular science writer"
  • Rosalyn Yalow (1921-), "medical physicist" who "won a Nobel prize for her work developing the radioimmunoassay technique"
I think it's hard to compare the Nobel Prize winners (Buck, Cori, Curie, Elion, Goeppert Mayer, Hodgkin, Joliet-Curie, Levi-Montalcini, McClintock, Nusslein Volhard, Yalow), to the 19th and 20th century women who were social activists as well as scientists. You can make your choice at www.womeninscience.co.uk**

* But mostly from the 19th and 20th centuries.

** I can't actually get the "Vote Now" button to work. Maybe the site doesn't like Macs? or maybe you have to be in the UK? I don't know.

(via The Telegraph)
Image: "Miss Mary Anning, the celebrated geologist of Lyme Regis"


Passionate Believer said...

This is difficult, especially the vote is to come up with the "most influential" woman scientist.

I would look at what did that scientist do after she made that discovery or contribution, and if their contribution impact human and the world the "most." Also, besides an interest in science, besides her scientific achievement and contribution, if that scientist shown a desire that she always wanted to "make the world a better place," if she is a kind, altruistic person who always wanted to do good.

If the vote is not about scientist but just who is the most influential woman, and Mother Teresa is on the list, this would be easy.

However, if I have the choice, I would vote that all of the women on the list are great scientists.

Darwi said...

that button does not work for me either. I am in UK, but I have a mac.