As part of Women’s History Month, we’ll celebrate some women in science who have helped shape our world!
Laxxon Medical is proud to support Women’s History Month. As part of Women’s History Month 2023, we’ll be highlighting the significant contributions made to science by women over the last century.
Women’s History Month began as a national celebration in 1981. Congress requested that the President designate a week in March as ‘Women’s History Week.’ This continued for the next five years until a petition by the National Women’s History Project requested Congress to designate March as Women’s History Month.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s look at some women who have shaped the world of science.
Dorothy Hodgkin - Discovered the Structure of Insulin
Born in 1910, Dorothy Hodgkin attended state secondary school, where only boys were allowed to study chemistry. She fought against the system to be enrolled. Ultimately, she attended Oxford, where she obtained a first-class honors degree in chemistry in 1932. She received her Ph.D. from Cambridge in 1936 and researched the architecture of cholesterol and examined the structure of penicillin, which was an essential part of creating a synthetic version.
From the 1950s onward, she focused her attention on the structure of insulin.
In 1964, she won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for ‘her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances.’ She was the third woman to have won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry and the fifth woman to win a science Nobel Prize.
Dorothy Hodgkin is the only British woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in sciences and was the second woman after Florence Nightingale to be appointed to the Order of Merit.
Katherine Johnson – ‘Hidden Figure’ & NASA Computer
Katherine Johnson was an exceptional mathematician that worked on NASA’s early space missions. Taraji P Henson portrayed her in the movie Hidden Figures. Unfortunately, she passed away at the age of 101 in 2020.
During the early years of NASA, Katherine was one of the ‘computers’ that solved mathematical equations by hand. She was among black women who worked in racially segregated conditions at the organization when it was initially known as the NACA before becoming NASA.
Her initial work was on planes and research, but her career at NASA’s Langley Research Center eventually transitioned into Project Mercury, the first human space program. In 1961, she did the trajectory analysis for the Freedom 7 Mission, which carried the first American, Alan Shephard, into space.
She then manually verified the calculations of a nascent NASA computer that had plotted John Glenn’s orbit around the planet. “Get the girl to check the numbers,” a computer-skeptical Glenn had insisted before the launch.
Johnson and her colleagues were the relatively unsung heroes of America’s Space Race. However, in 2015 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama for her lifetime’s work.
Barbara McClintock – Won the Nobel Prize for the Discovery of Jumping Genes
We’re fortunate enough to live in an age where we know all about the human genome and have even created tools that allow us to edit the building blocks of life, but it wasn’t always this way.
It’s thanks in large part to the lifelong studies of genetics by people such as Barbara McClintock. She spent her entire career studying maize and, in the 1930s, developed a staining technique that allowed her to identify its individual chromosomes.
From her research, she identified the existence of jumping genes, which are sequences of DNA that move between genomes. However, much of the scientific community considered her work irrelevant at the time, and jumping genes were just additional junk DNA.
It wasn’t until 1983, when she received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, that the scientific community began to take notice and recognize how vital jumping genes were.
Women In Science – Celebrating Women’s History Month
These are just three women who have played significant roles in science.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Laxxon Medical takes immense pride in celebrating people from all walks of life and how they contribute to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
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