Martha Vaughan (1926-2018) was a biochemist working for the National Heart Lung and
Blood Institute. She was an emeritus scientist in the Laboratory of Metabollic
Regulation, and her work focused on cellular regulation and lipid metabolism.
She graduated from the Yale School of
Medicine and went on to become the senior assistant surgeon in the laboratory
of Christian Afinsen, who won the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She was a
member of the National Academy of Sciences and of its Committee on Human
Mandl (1917-2016) was an Austrian-American
biochemist. She worked and taught at Columbia University for her entire career,
over almost four decades.
She studied the enzyme collagenase,
respiratory distress in newborns, and pulmonary emphysema. She founded the
academic journal Connective Tissue
Research in 1972, and served as its editor for 14 years. Her research was
recognized with numerous awards, such as the 1983 Garvan-Ollin Medal and the Austrian
Cross of Honour for Science and Art.
Saruhashi (1920-2007) was a Japanese biochemist. Her
research focused on the dangers of radioactive fallout and peaceful uses of
She was the first woman to obtain a PhD in chemistry
from the University of Tokyo, as well as the first elected to the Science
Council of Japan. She was dedicated to improving the status of female scientists
in her country, and created the Saruhashi Prize, awarded to a woman scientist
every year since 1981.
Geneviève Thiroux (1720-1805) was an 18th-century
chemist, novelist and translator from France. She was the author of an
important study on the chemical process of putrefaction.
highly educated in both humanities and sciences, and published numerous French
translations of novels and scientific treaties alike. She published her Essay on the History of Putrefaction in
1766 as the result of over 300 experiments she conducted herself.
Joyce Jacobson Kaufman (b. 1929) is a Jewish-American
chemist, particularly known for her research in biomedical coding. She was
responsible for introducing the concept of conformational topology and applying
it to biomedical molecules.
She was motivated to study
chemistry at the age of eight, when she read a biography of Marie Curie. She
was admitted at John Hopkins University in 1945 on a special status, since
women were still not officially allowed to study there at the time. After
obtaining her PhD in 1960, she became the university’s principal research
Edith Flanigen (b. 1929) is an American chemist who was
awarded more than 109 patents, and invented more than 200 different synthetic
substances during a career that spanned more than four decades. She worked for
the Union Carbide company, where she was the first female corporate research
She worked on molecular sieves and the synthesis of
emeralds, and received numerous awards for her work. A prize in her name is now
given every year to an outstanding female scientist.
Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was an Austrian-Swedish physicist, part of the team who
first discovered the nuclear fission of uranium. Despite her significant
contributions to the project, she did not share the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
won by her male colleague, Otto Hahn.
She was the first
woman to obtain a post as a professor of physics in Germany, a position which
she lost after several years because of anti-Jewish laws. The chemical element
meitnerium was named by her.
Elsie Widdowson (1906-2000) was a
British dietitian who oversaw the addition of vitamins to wartime rations
across the United Kingdom. She studied chemistry at Imperial College, London,
graduating in 1928 as one of the first female students.
worked for the Department of Experimental Medicine in Cambridge, studying
nutrition and the chemical composition of the human body. She demonstrated that
a limited diet could be supported with added vitamins, which led to the
government programme of enriching wartime foods with calcium and other
nutrients. She also worked on rehabilitating the victims of extreme starvation
from Nazi concentration camps.
Lucy Everest Boole (1862-1904) was an Irish chemist and the first female professor at the Royal Free Hospital in London, and the first female Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry.
Although receiving no formal university education she studied chemistry as part of her training as a pharmacist. She later became a researcher and lecturer in Chemistry and published several important papers, among which was her procedure of analysis of tartar emetic, which was the official method of testing metals until 1963. Lucy’s promising career ended abruptly when she died at only 43.