Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin

 Rosalind Elsie Franklin, was born July 25, 1920 in London England. She was born into an affluent and influential Jewish family. At the age of 15, she knew she wanted to be a scientist because it intrigued her. Rosalind received her education at several schools. She first attended North London Collegiate School, where she excelled in science. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in chemistry from Cambridge University in 1941 and her PhD in 1945. In the fall of 1946, Rosalind was appointed to the Laboratoire Central des Services where she worked with a crystallographer Jacques Mering. He taught her X-ray diffraction, which played an important role in the discovery of the structure of DNA. During this time period, the scientists working on this project considered it to be “the secret of life”.

Despite her diligent work ethic, Rosalind had a personality conflict with a fellow colleague, Maurice Wilkins. In January 1953, Wilkins changed the course of DNA history by disclosing, without Franklin’s permission or knowledge, her Photo 51 to competing scientist James Watson, who was working on his own DNA model. Thus, she was not credited with her research and discovery of DNA.

In the fall of 1956, Rosalind Franklin discovered that she had ovarian cancer. She continued working throughout the following two years, despite having three operations and experimental chemotherapy. She experienced a 10-month remission and worked up until several weeks before her death on April 16, 1958, at the age of 37.

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