This is a picture of Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), who had a major role in the discovery in the structure of DNA. Franklin went to an all girl’s school in London and then got her Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1945. She started doing research at King’s College in 1951 under John Randall. Her background was in physical chemistry, and was experienced in x-ray diffraction. She and another researcher at King’s, Maurice Wilkins, started researching different types of DNA. However, Wilkins didn’t treat her as a peer since women did not have a respectable role in science at the time. There was always tension between the two of them. She was working on A-DNA, and Wilkins was working on B-DNA. It is said that it was her x-ray diffractions of DNA, specifically her famous photograph 51, that led Watson and Crick to their finalized structure of DNA. However, there is some controversy over the credit given to the structure. Watson, Crick, and Wilkins all received the Nobel Prize in 1962, 4 years after Franklin died. Since she was dead, she could not legally win the Nobel Prize, but it was revealed later that she was never even nominated for it, even when she was alive and could have been nominated.  One thing is for sure; Rosalind Franklin played a major role in the discovery of the structure of DNA, even though she is given remarkably little credit for it. She ended up leaving King’s, possibly due to her friction with Wilkins, and going to Birkbeck College where she did research on the Tobacco Mosaic Virus.

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