Greatest Female Scientists

Marie Curie (Poland)

Born: 7 November 1867

Died: 4 July 1934

Marie Curie was a Polish–French physicist as well as chemist. She was the first female professor at the University of Paris and the first woman who received the Nobel Prize in both fields physics (along with her husband, Pierre Curie) in 1903 as well as chemistry in 1911. Her significant contribution was in the area of radioactivity. She wrote the theory of radioactivity and also discovered two completely new elements such as radium and polonium. She is also a prime figure who initiated the treatment of cancer with radioactive isotopes. Later, her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and son-in-law, Frédéric Joliot-Curie also won the Noble Prize in chemistry.


Maria Goeppert-Mayer (Germany)

Born: June 28, 1906 (in Kattowitz now Katowice, Poland)

Died: February 20, 1972

Maria Goeppert-Mayer was a German-born American theoretical physicist. She received Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 for her important contribution in Nuclear Shell structure of the atomic nucleus. One of the other notable contributions was the theory of possible two-photon absorption by atoms. In 1972, she died of heart attack.

After her death, in 1972, the American Physical Society set up an award in her name to honor young female physicists holding Ph.D.s. The University of Chicago also organizes an annual award program in her name to encourage young woman scientists, and the University of California at San Diego organizes Maria Goeppert-Mayer symposium every year where female researchers meet and discuss about the current science.


Trotula of Salerno (Italy)

Trotula of Salerno was one of the most significant female physicians of eleventh century in Salerno, Italy. She wrote numerous books on women’s health including Treatments for Women, Diseases of Women, and Women’s Cosmetics. She also contributed to the encyclopedia of medical knowledge, On the Treatment of Illnesses. For centuries in medieval Europe, all these manuscripts remained the prime resource for information on women’s health.


Virginia Apgar (America)

Born: 7 June 1909

Died: 7 August 1974

Virginia Apgar was an American pediatric anesthesiologist who is widely known as the developer of the Apgar score. Apgar score is a method of evaluating the health of newborn babies that has dramatically scaled down the infant mortality across the globe.

She received honorary doctorates from Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in1964, Mount Holyoke College in1965, New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry in1967 and many more for her distinguished accomplishments.


Rachel Carson (America)

Born: May 27, 1907

Died: April 14, 1964

Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist and conservationist. She is best-known as the mother of environmental movement. In 1932, she was appointed in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries as a biologist but in 1952, she resigned and devoted her whole life in venturing the ecology of life.

In her book Silent Spring, she has illustrated how humans are causing mass destruction of the earth by killing insects and other living beings. Instead of supporting life, they are holding the responsibility to abolish their existence.


Gertrude Belle Elion (America)

Born: Jan. 23, 1918, New York, N.Y., U.S.

Died: Feb. 21, 1999, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Gertrude Belle Elion was an American pharmacologist. In 1988, She along with George H. Hitchings and Sir James W. Black, received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for major contribution in developing the drugs to treat several major diseases.

She is responsible for developing chemotherapy, for inventing the leukemia-fighting drug 6-mercatopurine and assisting in discovery of Zovirax, a drug that is used to fight herpes.


Rosalind Franklin (Britain)

Born: 25 July 1920 (Notting Hill, London)

Died: 16 April 1958 (Chelsea, London)

Rosalind Elsie Franklin was a British biophysicist as well as X-ray crystallographer. Her most significant contributions include the understanding of the fine molecular structures of RNA, DNA, viruses, coal and graphite. Her demonstration of DNA structure helped scientists understand how genetic information passed from parents to children. She was also the prime figure behind the tobacco mosaic and polio viruses. In 1958, at the age of 37, she died from ovarian cancer.


Anita Roberts (America)

Born: April 3, 1942 (in Pennsylvania)

Died: May 26, 2006

Anita B. Roberts was a molecular biologist. She completed her doctorate in biochemistry in 1968, from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the prime figure who demonstrated the characteristics of protein, TGF-β, that plays an important role in healing wounds and bone fractures and has a dual role in blocking or stimulating cancers. She was diagnosed with gastric cancer in 2004 and through her blog she gave the details of her daily struggles with the disease.

Jane Goodall (born as Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall)

Born: 3 April 1934
Jane Goodall was a British anthropologist, primatologist, ethologist, and the UN Messenger of Peace. She is the pioneering figure who opened and extended the scientific understanding about the evolution of man.

She was the main contributor in finding the parallel traits of human that chimps share including intellect, group behavior, annoyance and grief. After spending over 30 years in the jungles of the Gombe Game Reserve in Africa, she carefully illustrated the traits and everything from scientific point of view. She founded Jane Goodall Institute that extensively focuses on the environmental and wildlife conservation. Goodall has received numerous awards for her environmental and humanitarian contributions.


Rachel Zimmerman

In 1980, Rachel Zimmerman, at the age of twelve, invented a program for computers named Blissymbols that assisted people with numerous physical disabilities including cerebral palsy to communicate and express to another in the same room. She created this for the purposes of a school science fair and went on to competing in the World Exhibition of Achievement of Young Inventors and achieved silver medal. She received several prestigious awards. Nowadays, she has been works on tailoring NASA innovations to fulfill the necessities of people with some disabilities

  • Sandy

    Brilliant Article,,,hugely inspiring