Women Scientists, Inventors and Explorers


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Hypatia of Alexandria (350 AD - 415 AD), Greek philosopher, mathematician and astronomer.

Marie Curie * (1867 - 1934), Polish physicist and chemist: famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity - the discovery of polonium and radium. She was the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes (1903 in Physic; 1911 in Chemistry).

Alice Hamilton (1869 - 1970), American physician: significant contributions in occupational medicine and was the first woman appointed to the faculty of Harvard University.

Rosalind Franklin (1920 - 1958), British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer: best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA which led to discovery of DNA double helix by Crick and Watson in 1953.

Mary Leakey (1913 - 1996), British archaeologist and anthropologist: discovered the first fossilized Proconsul skull, an extinct ape now believed to be ancestral to humans, and also discovered the Zinjanthropus skull at Olduvai.

Margaret Mead (1901 - 1978), American anthropologist: a popularizer of anthropology into modern American and Western culture.

Lise Meitner (1878 - 1968), Austrian-Swedish, physicist: worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics and was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission.

Barbara McClintock * (1902 - 1992), American scientist and one of the world's most distinguished cytogeneticists (a branch of genetics that is concerned with the study of the structure and function of the cell, especially the chromosomes). Received the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Margarete von Wrangell (1877 - 1932), German agricultural chemist: the first female appointed full professor at a German university.

Roberta Bondar (1945 - ): Canada's first female astronaut and the first neurologist in space; served as NASA's head of space medicine.

Maria Mitchell (1818 - 1889), American astronomer: the first American woman to work as a professional astronomer.

Gertrude Elion * (1918 - 1999), American biochemist: developed the AIDS drug AZT.

Mary Anning (1799 - 1847), British fossil collector and palaeontologist: made a number of important discoveries from the Jurassic age marine fossil beds at Lyme Regis where she lived.

Valentina Tereshkova (1937 - ) Soviet cosmonaut: the first woman and civilian to fly in space - Vostok 6 mission on 16 June, 1963.

Tatiana Proskouriakoff (1909 - 1985), Russian-American Mayanist scholar and archaeologist: contributed significantly to the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphs, the writing system of the Maya civilization.

Amalie Emmy Noether (1882 - 1935), German mathematician: known for her groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815 - 1852), English writer: known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine; thanks to this, she is sometimes considered the "World's First Computer Programmer".

Beatrice Tinsley (1941 - 1981), New Zealand astronomer and cosmologist: made fundamental contributions to the astronomical understanding of how galaxies evolve with time.

Emily Stevens (1900 - 1967), one of the world's leading iris hybridisers: famous for creating the "Pinnacle" iris and others.

Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910), English nurse: pioneering work in nursing during the Crimean War.

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821 - 1910), English-American physician: the first female doctor in the United States and the first on the UK Medical Register.

Dian Fossey (1932 - 1985), American zoologist: studied gorilla groups over a period of 18 years in the mountain forests of Rwanda.

Grace Hopper (1906 - 1992), American computer scientist and United States Navy officer: was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. She conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages.

Chien-Shiung Wu (1912 - 1997), Chinese-American physicist: worked on the Manhattan Project and helped to develop the process for separating uranium metal into the U-235 and U-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion.

Amelia Earhart (1897 - 1937), American aviation pioneer: the first women to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Jane Goodall (1934 - ), British primatologist and anthropologist: best known for her 45-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania.

Anna Baldwin, American farmwoman: invented the suction milking machine in 1878.

Kathleen Kenyon (1906 - 1978), British archaeologist: excavated Jericho between 1952-1958.

* Nobel laureates

Women Scientists, Inventors and Explorers Biographies

Elementary School / Middle School Level
Famous Women Inventors - InventHelp
Women's Adventures in Science
Women Nobel Prize Winners - Fact Monster
Women in Aviation and Space History - Smithsonian
Women of the Hall - National Women's Hall of Fame
Notable Women Adventurers - Fact Monster
Women Scientists in History - Historia

Middle School / High School Level
Biographies of Women Scientists - The Hypatia Institute
Women in Science - Thinkquest
Women Life Scientists (see bottom of page) - The American Physiological Society

High School / College Level
Women in Science - MSU
Biographies of Women Mathematicians - Agnes Scott
Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics - CWP
Female Nobel Prize Laureates - The Nobel Prize Archive
4000 Years of Women in Science - University of Alabama
Women in Science - SDSC
Female mathematicians - St Andrews
Biographical Snapshots of Famous Women and Minority Chemists
Distinguished Women Scientists of Past and Present
Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics - UCLA
American Women's History: Subject Index to Research Sources - Ken Middleton
Biographies of Women Mathematicians - Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS)
Women in Math Project - Marie Vitulli, Department of Mathematics University of Oregon


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