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Female Scientists

Some of the greatest scientists of all time were females who have made important discoveries
in a variety of fields in science. Several of their contributions throughout history have even
surpassed those of their male counterparts. Our list of the most famous female scientists
below are organized in order of popularity so you can read about the advancements that they

Marie Curie (1867-

Jane Goodall (1934)
Famous For: Primate studies
Famous For: Work on radioactivity
Jane Goodall is known world-wide for her
Marie Curie was the first woman to win a
groundbreaking studies on primates. She is
Nobel Prize and the only woman to win this
considered the top expert on chimpanzeees in
award in two categories: Physics and
the world and is perhaps best known for her 45
Chemistry. She discovered polonium and
year study on the social lives of these animals
radium and her work helped with the
in Tanzania.
creation of X-rays.

Rosalind Franklin (1920-

Rita Levi-Montalcini 1958)
(1909-2012) Famous For: Research on RNA, DNA,
Famous For: Nerve growth studies graphite, coal and viruses
Rita Levi-Montalcini was a neurologist who Rosalind Franklin was a X-ray crystallographer
won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or and biophysicist whose work greatly
Medicine in 1986 for her findings in nerve contributed to the comprehension of molecular
growth factor (NGF). She was the first structures. Her most notable work revolved
Nobel laureate to live past her 100th around X-ray diffraction images of DNA. Her
birthday. work in this resulted in the finding of the DNA
double helix.

Lise Meitner (1878- Shirley Jackson (1916-

1968) 1965)
Famous For: Work on radioactivity and Famous For: Work in nuclear physics
nuclear physics
Lise Meitner was a key member of a group Shirley Ann Jackson was the first African
that discovered nuclear fission. One of her American woman to attain a doctorate degree at
colleagues, Otto Hahn, was given the Noble MIT in nuclear physics. She has received many
Prize for this work and Meitners exclusion awards for her research and work as well as
from the award is considered to be a huge several honorary doctorate degrees.
error by the Nobel committee.

Irne Joliot-Curie (1897-

Maria Mitchell (1818-
Famous For: Study of radiation
Daughter of famed Marie Curie, Irene Joliot
Famous For: Findings in astronomy
Curie won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in
Maria Mitchell was the very first American
1935 for the finding of artificial radioactivity.
female to become a professional astronomer.
She, along with her husband Frederic, also
She discovered a comet in 1847 that was
turned boron into radioactive nitrogen as well
aptly named Miss Mitchells Comet.
as aluminim into phosphorus and magnesium
into silicon.

Melissa Franklin (1957)

Elizabeth Blackburn
Famous For: Particle physics studies
Melissa Franklin currently holds a position as
Famous For: Work with telomere
an experimental particle physicists at Harvard
Elizabeth Blackburn won the Nobel Prize in
University where she is Department Chair. She
Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for her
headed a team at the Fermi National
discovery of telomerase which is the enzyme
Acceleration Lab in Chicago where they found
which replenishes telomere. Telomere is part
the first signs that top quarks exist. Franklin
of the end of a chromosome which protects
was also the first woman to get tenure at the
Harvard Physics department.

Caroline Herschel Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-

(1750-1848) 1994)
Famous For: Discovering comets Famous For: Protein crystallography
Caroline Herschel worked closely together Dorothy Hodgkin is known for her
with her brother Sir William Herschel advancement of X-ray crystallography
throughout their careers as astronomers. techniques which are now implemented to
Caroline discovered several comets, one of figure out the three dimensional structures of
which, the 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, is named biomolecules. She was given the Nobel Prize in
after her. She was the first woman scientist Chemistry for her findings on the makeup of
to be recognized by the United Kingdom. vitamin B12.

Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-
Gertrude B. Elion
Famous For: Work with experimental physics
Famous For: Development of new drugs
and radioactivity
Gertrude B. Elion was a joint-winner of the
Chien-Shiung Wu is known for her work on the
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in
Manhattan Project and her help with finding the
1988 for discoveries of important principles
process for separating uranium into U-238 and
for drug treatment. One of her most notable
U-235. She has several nicknames including the
creations was the development of the AIDS
Chinese Marie Curie and the First Lady of
drug AZT.