Rosalind Franklin

(1920 – 1958)

Physical chemist

Rosalind is known for taking an image of ‘DNA’ using X-rays, a type of radiation like light but we can’t see it. DNA is found in the cells of every living organism. They are like a set of instructions that tell living organisms how to grow, function and produce more versions of themselves.

Rosalind did really well at school and went on to study at Cambridge. She researched the ‘porosity’ (how many holes there are) of coal. This work helped to design masks with the right sizes of holes to let people breathe in oxygen but not the nasty gases sometimes used as weapons in wars. After spending some years in Paris, she started exploring biological species, especially viruses (these make you sick!) and DNA back in the UK. This work was never recognized in Nobel Prizes, which were instead awarded to male researchers. Her contributions are now very much recognized.