People Research: Women Chemists Throughout History
You can surely say that women have come a long way in their triumphs and feats.
They have left their imprint on the world with their astonishing accomplishments
and their contributions in the world of chemistry. From the 1800’s to this
present day, there are women whose names have gone down in history because of the
impact of their successes in making a difference in the Exact Sciences. Some of
these chemists even beat the odds, excelling in an age when women didn’t have
the opportunity or the freedom to become more than just housewives and mothers.
These women paved the way and set the example of what women can accomplish and achieve,
even becoming scientists in a man’s world. Below, you will find some of these
notable names, women of substance and integrity, women of importance in the field
Jacqueline K. Barton-1952
Jacqueline Barton is an American female chemist. She was born and raised in New
York City in 1952. Her field of expertise is in the study of DNA. She discovered
that she could locate and scan genes within the DNA. The process involved shooting
electrons through DNA components. Her chemistry approach in this medical field is
used to treat and repair damaged cells in patients. She has received the Alan T.
Waterman Award of the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society
Award in Pure Chemistry and the ACS Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry to name
a few. Her recognition also includes numerous medals and honorary degrees.
Marie Curie-1867- 1934
Marie Curie was born on November 7, 1867. She was given the name Maria Sklodowska.
She grew up in Warsaw Poland. Her studies included mathematical sciences and physics.
She, along with her husband Pierre Curie, performed laboratory research of Polonium
and Radium. Madame Curie discovered the positive medical effect of radium on
patients. During her lifetime, she received numerous honorary degrees in science,
medicine and law. Marie Curie was given the Nobel Prize for physics in 1903. In
1911, she won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Both she and her husband received the
Davy Medal of Royal Society. Madame Curie Died in Savory, France in 1934.
Ruth Benerito is a chemist who was born in 1916 on January 12. When it comes to
wrinkle-free cotton, it is Ruth who discovered the method of creating resilient
cotton fabrics through the process of Partial Esterification. Her expertise and
research were in the textile, wood and paper industries. Born in New Orleans, this
chemist work also includes developing an intravenous fat emulsion used in feeding
patients with long-term illnesses. Ruth Benerito has won the MIT Lifetime Achievement
Award as well as the Garvin Medal.
Ruth Erica Benesch-1925
Ruth Erica Benesch along with her husband Reinhold, discovered the essence of the
protein called hemoglobin. They researched and found out how it carries oxygen throughout
the body. Through their study and biochemical research, they found out how hemoglobin
knows when a cell needs replenished with oxygen. Ruth was born on February 25, 1925.
Her place of birth was Paris, France. She received her Ph.D. degree from Northwestern
University in 1951. Ruth and her husband became professors at Columbia University.
Until her death in 2000, Ruth continued to study the properties of hemoglobin in
hopes of finding treatment for diseases such as sickle-cell anemia.
Another name on the women list of chemists is that of Joan B. Berkowitz. She did
research on high temperature chemistry. Her chemistry background also includes developing
information to support her findings on hazardous waste regulations. She has specialized
in Environmental Management, whereas she presented to Congress the first EPA’s
Hazardous Waste Report. She has published such works as a reference book that is
considered an authority on hazardous waste. Dr. Berkowitz received the Achievement
Award of the Society of Women Engineers. She is part of the consultation firm, Farkus,
Berkowitz & Company. This is here own company that she developed and organized.
Irene Joliet Curie is the daughter of Marie Curie. She followed her mother’s
example doing scientific research on radium. She also worked in her mother’s
laboratory as her assistant beside her husband Frederick Joliet. Both Irene and
Frederick received the Noble Prize in Chemistry in 1925. Irene was born in Paris,
France on September 12, 1897. Her other accomplishments include becoming the
Director of the Radium Institute. She was also a member of the French Atomic Energy
Commission. Irene helped to establish France’s first atomic pile. This amazing
chemist died in 1956 from Leukemia because of exposure to radioactive elements that
she worked with.
Marie Daley is a biochemist who was born in 1921. The African American female earned
a Bachelor of Science degree, a Master of Science degree as well as receiving a
Ph.D. in chemistry. She was the first woman of color to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry.
Her university studies and research focused on nucleic acid. As a Biochemist, she
was on the list of the Top 50 women in science, engineering and technology. The
National Technical Association in 1999 gave this recognition. She passed away in
Rosalind Franklin 1920-1958
Rosalind Franklin was born on July 25, 1920. She decided to become a scientist at
the young age of 18. She began her scientist endeavors at Newham College, earning
her Ph.D. While discovering and explaining the structural changes of coals and charcoal
once they are heated. This research gave her the noted title of research chemist.
She discovered that DNA had two forms, one these forms was the helical structure,
which she wrote and published a paper on. Her expertise was on the structure of
DNA. Before her death in 1958, after finishing her DNA research, she began studying
the tobacco mosaic virus. She died at the age of 37 from ovarian cancer.
According to the Encyclopedia of the Earth and the Chemical Heritage Foundation,
this chemist is the founder of Industrial Toxicology in the United States. Her expertise
lies in probing poisonous materials that workers get exposed to. In 2002, Dr. Hamilton
received the National Historic Chemical Landmark Award, which was given by the American
Chemical Society. She earned the honorary title of “First Lady of Industrial
Medicine.” Her research included the study of the effects of lead, aniline
dyes, carbon monoxide and other poisons and hazards in regards to public health
Dorothy Hodgkin was born in Cairo, Egypt on May 12, 1910. This female chemist studied
the structure of penicillin, and insulin as well as researching the effects of vitamin
B12 used for battling anemia. Her other achievements include recording the first
x-ray diffraction pattern. She received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964. In
1965, she earned the Order of Merit award from United Kingdom.
Carolyn Bertozzi is another famous name in the field of chemistry. She comes from
a family that has science planted in their backbones. Her father and sister are
both professionals; her sister in mathematics and her father in physics. However,
Carolyn’s contributions and expertise is in creating material for artificial
bones that mimic the real thing. Carolyn even went as far as creating contact lenses
that have the same surface as the cornea. Bertozzi is an award-winning scientist
who was given the Whistler Award, the Ernest Schering Prize, the Irving Signal Young
Investigator Award and the Presidential Early Career Award in Science.
Anna J. Harrison
Anna J. Harrison was born in Benton City, Missouri on December 23, 1912. She went
from teaching in a one-room rural schoolhouse to becoming an assistant professor
of Chemistry at Mt. Holyoke College in 1945. By 1950, she was a full professor.
Her career led her to become Chair of the Department of Chemistry. She stayed in
that position for 6 years, from 1960-1966. This chemist earned over 20 honorary
degrees in her career. She also received the Chemical Education Award in 1982.
Emma P. Carr
Emma Carr was born in Holmesville, Ohio on June 23, 1880. She attended Ohio State
University and Mount Holyoke, becoming an assistant in the chemistry department.
Emma received a Physical Chemistry degree from the University of Chicago. For her
dedication, she was awarded the Mary E. Woolley Fellowship. In 1937, this chemist
received the Garvin Medal.
Mary L. Good
Mary L. Good is one of those women who have made a name for herself in the Chemistry
field. Not only is she a professor, she also serves on the Board of Biogen. As her
career flourished, she served as Undersecretary for the Technology Administration
Department. She held this position for four years. In her Chemistry career, she
managed to write and publish over 100 reference journals. She has a B.S. in Chemistry,
an M.S, and Ph.D degrees in inorganic chemistry.
Mildren Cohn was born in New York City in 1913. This astonishing woman graduated
from high school at the age of 14. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry
in 1931. It was her dream to train future chemistry teachers. In 1938, she received
her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry. However, in 1946, she took on a research position
at Carl and Gerty Cori’s Biochemistry Laboratory. Her accomplishments include
160 published scientific articles and being appointed to the Board of the Journal
of Biological Chemistry. She was the first woman to hold this position. During her
career, she has earned numerous honorary doctorates from nine universities.
In a way, you can say Elizabeth Fulhame was a very private individual, for her legacy
she did not leave much information on her private life. Her date of birth and death
are unknown. However, she was an accomplished chemist dating back to the 1700’s.
She was an also an honorary member of the Philadelphia Chemical Society. Elizabeth
was interested in creating cloth made of silver and gold. In 1794, she wrote a book
entitled, “An Essay on Combustion with a View to a New Art of Dying and Painting,
Where in the Phlogistic and Antiphlogistic Hypothesis are Proved Erroneous.”
This chemist also discovered that chemistry has two principles, that of combustion
Kathryn Uhrich is a professor and Dean of Math and Physical Science at Rutgers School
of Arts and Sciences. These positions did not come without her accomplishing some
long-term goals. This chemist has received and earned her B.S., Ph.D. and two Postdoctoral
Research Fellows. Throughout her career, she took home the Blavatnic Award
for young scientists, the ACS Buck-Whitney award and the Thomas Alva Edison Patent
Award. In 2004, she was named Outstanding Scientist in Biomedical Research.. For
Kathryn Uhrich, her research interest lies in the fields of both materials and organic
Hazel Bishop is a legendary chemist who was born in 1906. Her career as a chemist
includes formulating gasoline and determining what causes fuel deposits in engines.
However, her major accomplishment was creating smudge proof lipstick, which led
to her becoming an entrepreneur. She began her own cosmetic company called Hazel
Bishop Cosmetics. She also created the Hazel Bishop Laboratories where she worked
on personal care products.
Rachel Littler Bodley
Rachel Littler Bodley came into this world on December 7, 1831. She was born in
Cincinnati, Ohio. Her educational path includes Wesleyan Female College and Polytechnic
College in Philadelphia. She received her B.A. in 1949. After her education, she
became an instructor of Natural Sciences in 1862. Her main interest was in the study
of plant specimens, where she collected and identified what she discovered. In her
career, she received an honorary A.M. degree and an honorary M.D. degree. She was
the first female professor at the Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia.