Top 10 Greatest Women Scientists In History

Men have also ruled the field of science in history, like other fields. However, the world has seen some of the famous female scientists who changed the old stereotypes and made some of the irresistible contributions in several scientific fields, including Computer Science and Chemistry. Their contributions gave a new edge to science. Without such excellent women, we would never see the world like it is today.

Here is the list of famous lady scientists who changed the world –

10. Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)

Ada Lovelace

Augusta Ada King-Noel aka Ada Lovelace (December 10, 1815 – November 27, 1852) was an English writer and mathematician. She was supposed to be working on previous general-purpose mechanical computer of Charles Babbage, the Analytical Engine. Her articles based on the engine are known to be the first algorithm to be conducted by machine. She is also known as world’s first computer programmer. The articles of this British mathematician inspired Alan Turing while studying about modern computers. The US Department of Defense has developed a programming language and it is named after her.

9. Barbara McClintock (1902-1992)

Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock (16 June, 1902 – 2 September, 1992) was an American cytogeneticist and scientist who was crowned with Noble Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1983. She is known among the most influential scientists in genetics. She has significient contributions in cytogenetics and she was the first for producing maize genetic map. She studied more in this subject matter. But her findings were overlooked by the scientific world. Later on, she became a Noble Prize winner and her findings were recognized.

8. Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994)

Dorothy Hodgkin

Dorothy Hodgkin (May 12, 1910 – July 29, 1994) aka Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was a British biochemist who was awarded with Noble Prize in Chemistry in the year 1964 and developed protein crystallography. She was the third woman to win Noble Prize in chemistry and she was an important figure.  She was the leading name in x-ray crystallography, who found and confirmed various biological molecular structures, including insulin, penicillin, and Vitamin B12. After 35 years of experience and winning Noble Prize, she was able to decipher insulin’s structure in 1969. X-ray crystallography is the most sought-after tool in modern world as it helped determine the structure of several molecules to understand the function.

7. Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1906-1972)

Maria Goeppert-Mayer

Maria Geoppert-Mayer (28 June 1906 – 20 February 1972) was a Germany-based Nobel laureate in Physics and American theoretical physicist who was the leading name for raising the nuclear shell model in atomic nucleus. After Marie Curie, she was another female Nobel Prize winner in physics in 1963. Basically, she was interested in mathematics but switched to physics. She also played an important role on Manhattan Project during World War II.

6. Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Elsie Franklin (July 25, 1920 – April 16, 1958) was an x-ray crystallographer and English chemist who played an important role in the understanding of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) molecular structures, viruses, RNA (ribonucleic acid), graphite and coal. Her works on viruses and coal were the lifetime achievements for her and she played an important role on discovery of DNA structure. Despite being overlooked by colleagues and lived shortly for just 38 years, her presence will be felt forever in the history of science. Despite playing leading role in discovery of DNA structure, she was unable to get the credit deserved. Crick and Watson found the DNA’s double helix model which was possible only because she already produced the diffraction X-ray images of DNA.

5. Irene Joliot-Curie (1897-1956)

Irene Joliot-Curie

Irene Joliot-Curie (September 12, 1897 – March 17, 1956) was the daughter of Pierre Curie and Marie Curie, a French scientist, and wife of Frédéric Joliot-Curie. She followed the footsteps of his parents and studied radioactivity. In 1935, she became the Noble Prize winner in Chemistry for her finding in artificial radioactivity. With her husband, she also turned aluminum into phosphorous, boron into radioactive nitrogen and magnesium to silicon.

4. Gertrude Elion (1918-1999)

Irene Joliot-Curie

Gertrude Belle Elion (23 January 1918 – 21 February 1999) was an American pharmacologist and biochemist who won Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1988 along with Sir James Black and George H. Hitchings. She was known for her findings in drug treatment. As a pharmacologist, she developed an antiretroviral drug, AZT to treat AIDS, along with Dr. George H. Hitchings. During her partnership with him fo r four decades, she developed medicines to treat leukemia, malaria and herpes.

3. Lise Meitner (1878-1968)

Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner (November 7, 1878 – October 27, 1968) was a genius scientist in nuclear physics born in Austria. She conducted studies under great scientists like Max Planck and Ludwig Boltzmann and discovered the Protactinium by working with Otto Hahn. She was also engaged in researches related to the findings of subsequent discovery of atom bomb and nuclear fission, but she didn’t know the adverse effects of her discoveries. When Nazis came into power, she had to fly to Sweden. Despite getting denied for Noble Prize, the scientific world has recognized her and named an element Meitnerium after her.

2. Jane Goodall (1934)

Jane Goodall

Dame Jane Morris Goodall aka Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall (April 3, 1934) is a British ethnologist, primatologist, UN Messenger of Peace, and anthropologist. She is the leading expert while studying on Chimpanzees across the world. She studied under the supervision of leading scientist as a chimpanzee researcher under Louis Leaky even before finishing graduation. She spent her life in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania on studying with chimpanzees and documenting their living. Her studies highlighted the lifestyle of chimpanzees and she made discoveries like they can use and design tools and they are omnivorous.

1. Marie Curie (1867-1934)

Marie Curie

Marie Skłodowska Curie aka Maria Salomea Skłodowska (November 7, 1867 – July 4, 1934) was a naturalized-French and Polish chemist and physicist who was engaged in research on radioactivity.  No list of popular women scientist is complete without adding the name of the Polish-French scientist, Marie Curie. She was indeed only woman, and the first woman who won Noble Prize two times and in two different fields. In every country, her achievements are introduced to every school student at any point.

She discovered the Radium and Polonium elements along with Pierre Curie, her husband. She won Nobel Prize in physics in 1903 with Henry Becquerel and Pierre for studying in radioactivity. In 1911, she started to win chemistry Nobel for the isolation and discovery of Radium. She died due to overexposure to radiation when she was studying at 66 due to leukemia. She also found the techniques to isolate radioactive isotopes. The first studies on using radioactive isotopes for treating neoplasms were conducted in the world under her supervision.