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A Day of Women - The Science Edition

March 9, 2011

Brit Trogen

For International Women's Day there's a lot of great information floating around for the reading, or at the very least for the watching (Bond in drag, anyone?) But in the world of science there's no better way to honor the double X's of the world than by paying tribute to some of the most incredible and inspiring female scientists of our time. Unfortunately, this list will be painfully short. Feel free to add to it in the comments.

 

Vera Rubin is the discoverer of dark matter via her pioneering work on galaxy rotation rates. Now 82 years old, Rubin is currently a research astronomer at the Carnegie Institute of Washington. Among her many accomplishments: receiving the National Medal of Science, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (the second female to ever do so), and getting a mention on the Simpsons.

 

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is the brilliant astrophysicist who discovered radio pulsars as a PhD student at Cambridge in 1967, and was subsequently denied a share of the Nobel prize earned by her supervisor for their discovery in 1974. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, received the Oppenheimer Memorial Prize, the Herschel Medal, was the first female president of the Institute of Physics among many other achievements. But still.    

 

Carol Greider's mad skills led her to discover the enzyme telomerase in 1984 when she was but a lowly grad student; a discovery that would lead to her getting the Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology in 2009. Nice to see the Nobel Committee re-evaluating their stance on awesome female postgrads.

 

Elizabeth Loftus has conducted extensive research on human memory, the misinformation effect and false memories, altering the way we see our own brains. Her work has made her one of the most respected and influential psychology researchers of our time, so even though she's been on Oprah let's try not to hold it against her. 

 

Roberta Bondar: the first female Canadian astronaut and the first neurologist in space. 

 

Jane Effing Goodall

 

Oh dear god my brain is going to explode from having to stop listing brilliant females. But in a way it's comforting to know just how inadequate of a tribute this is. This is only one drop in the ocean, and that is a very good thing.

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