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Women in Chemistry

Elizabeth Fulhame (Floruit 1794) was a Scottish chemist who invented the concept of catalysis, and discovered photoreduction… Her book relays in painstaking detail her experiments with oxidation-reduction reactions. In 1810 Fulhame was made an honorary member of the Philadelphia Chemical Society. Thomas P. Smith applauded her work, stating that “Mrs. Fulham has now laid such bold claims to chemistry that we can no longer deny the sex the privilege of participating in this science also.”


The below article has been adapted from Women chemists throughout history

People Research: Women Chemists Throughout History

Jacqueline K. Barton-1952

Jacqueline Barton is an American female chemist. She was born and raised in New York City in 1952. Her field of expertise is in the study of DNA. She discovered that she could locate and scan genes within the DNA. The process involved shooting electrons through DNA components. …

Marie Curie-1867- 1934

Marie Curie was born on November 7, 1867. She was given the name Maria Sklodowska. She grew up in Warsaw Poland. Her studies included mathematical sciences and physics. She, along with her husband Pierre Curie, performed laboratory research of Polonium and Radium. Madame Curie discovered the positive medical effect of radium on patients. During her lifetime, she received numerous honorary degrees in science, medicine and law. Marie Curie was given the Nobel Prize for physics in 1903. In 1911, she won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Both she and her husband received the Davy Medal of Royal Society. Madame Curie Died in Savory, France in 1934.

 Ruth Benerito-1916

Ruth Benerito is a chemist who was born in 1916 on January 12. When it comes to wrinkle-free cotton, it is Ruth who discovered the method of creating resilient cotton fabrics through partial esterification. Her expertise and research were in the textile, wood and paper industries. Born in New Orleans, this chemist work also includes developing an intravenous fat emulsion used in feeding patients with long-term illnesses. Ruth Benerito has won the MIT Lifetime Achievement Award as well as the Garvin Medal.

Ruth Erica Benesch-1925

Ruth Erica Benesch along with her husband Reinhold, discovered the essence of the protein called hemoglobin. They researched and found out how it carries oxygen throughout the body. Through their study and biochemical research, they found out how hemoglobin knows when a cell needs replenished with oxygen. Ruth was born on February 25, 1925. Her place of birth was Paris, France. She received her Ph.D. degree from Northwestern University in 1951. Ruth and her husband became professors at Columbia University. Until her death in 2000, Ruth continued to study the properties of hemoglobin in hopes of finding treatment for diseases such as sickle-cell anemia.

 Irene Joliot-Curie-1897-1956

Irene Joliet Curie is the daughter of Marie Curie. She followed her mother’s example doing scientific research on radium. She also worked in her mother’s laboratory as her assistant beside her husband Frederick Joliet. Both Irene and Frederick received the Noble Prize in Chemistry in 1925. Irene was born in Paris, France on September 12, 1897. Her other accomplishments include becoming the Director of the Radium Institute. She was also a member of the French Atomic Energy Commission. Irene helped to establish France’s first atomic pile. This amazing chemist died in 1956 from Leukemia because of exposure to radioactive elements that she worked with.

Marie Daley-1921-2003

Marie Daley is an African-American biochemist who was born in 1921. She was the first woman of color to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry. Her university studies and research focused on nucleic acids. She was on the list of the Top 50 women in science, engineering and technology fromt he National Technical Association.

Rosalind Franklin 1920-1958

Rosalind Franklin was born on July 25, 1920. She decided to become a scientist at the young age of 18. She discovered that DNA had two forms, one these forms was the helical structure, which she wrote and published a paper on. Before her death in 1958, after finishing her DNA research, she began studying the tobacco mosaic virus. She died at the age of 37 from ovarian cancer.

Alice Hamilton-1896-1970

Founder of Industrial Toxicology in the United States. Her expertise lies in probing poisonous materials that workers get exposed to. In 2002, Dr. Hamilton received the National Historic Chemical Landmark Award from the American Chemical Society. Her research included the study of the effects of lead, aniline dyes, carbon monoxide and other poisons and hazards in regards to public health and safety.

Dorothy Hodgkin-1910

Dorothy Hodgkin was born in Cairo, Egypt on May 12, 1910. She studied the structure of penicillin, and insulin as well as researching the effects of vitamin B12 used for battling anemia. Her other achievements include recording the first x-ray diffraction pattern. She received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964. In 1965, she earned the Order of Merit award from United Kingdom.

Carolyn Bertozzi

An expert in creating material for artificial bones that mimic the real thing, and creating contact lenses that have the same surface as the cornea. She was given the Whistler Award, the Ernest Schering Prize, the Irving Signal Young Investigator Award and the Presidential Early Career Award in Science.

Mildred Cohn (b.1913)

She graduated from high school at the age of 14. In 1938, she received her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, and in 1946, she took on a research position at Carl and Gerty Cori’s Biochemistry Laboratory. Her accomplishments include 160 published scientific articles and being appointed to the Board of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

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