"Woman Power" - Rosalind Franklin
(1920-1958)
By Melanie P.

Even though Rosalind Franklin made a major breakthrough dealing with the DNA structure, she was not acknowledged like Watson, Crick, and Wilkins, who shared a Nobel Prize. She was a chemist and molecular biologist whose x-ray studies of DNA contributed to its later structural description. She was born in London in 1920, and later received a chemistry degree. She began her career as a chemist in 1947. Later, Franklin returned to London, accepting a position at King's College. There, she studied the structure of DNA, continuing the studies of Maurice Wilkins. Wilkins had previously worked on the atom bomb during WWII.

As a researcher, Franklin was patient and hard-working. Each x-ray took several hours to produce. DNA is wet in living cells, and as DNA dries, its structure changes. Therefore, Franklin had to take special precautions in her studies.

By the Spring of 1952, she had produced two excellent pictures of DNA. Franklin's work led the way to the discovery of the DNA structure, and helped verify the accuracy of the model that was constructed by Watson and Crick in 1953.

Franklin left the lab, but continued to work as a chemist at the tobacco mosaic virus which attacks tobacco plants.


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