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Great Scientists

Rosalind Franklin

1920 - 1958

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin, 1920 - 1958, English chemist. She supplied the key photograph of x-ray crystallography which demonstrated the helix shape of the DNA molecule, which allowed other researchers (Wilkins, Crick, Watson) to describe the DNA structure.

  • Nationality
  • English

  • Subject
  • Chemistry, x-ray crystallography

  • Fields
  • DNA, RNA, viruses, carbon (fine structure of coal and graphite), organic colloids

  • Distinctions
  • Franklin died in 1958, so was not in contention for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962, but may well have been included with Francis Crick and James Watson, for her crystallography work.

  • Experiments/Discoveries
  • X-ray crystallography which demonstrated the helix structure of the DNA molecule.

DNA crystallography by Rosalind Franklin
DNA crystallography by Rosalind Franklin, allowed the structure of DNA to be deciphered

Franklin is at the centre of a controversy about the allocation of merit for the discovery of the DNA structure. However, she died in 1958, and since the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously, Wilkins, Crick, Watson received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962 without her.