From Notting Hill to the Nobel Prize, English chemist Rosalind Franklin was dedicated to innovation from the moment she decided to be a scientist at 15 years old.
Born in in London in 1920, Rosalind’s scientific intelligence was recognised from an early age. Attending Cambridge University and studying in Paris, Rosalind built a successful career as an X-Ray crystallographer in her early twenties. It was one of her ground-breaking photographs that provided the first key insights into DNA structure. The double helix - the twisted-ladder structure of DNA – may be an iconic image now, but scientists were studying it blind until 1953.
After seeing Rosalind’s photograph, contemporary researchers Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins used her findings as the basis for their famous model of DNA, receiving a Nobel Prize in 1962.
Tragically Rosalind died five years before, aged 37, of ovarian cancer and never saw her research recognised. Almost a century after her birth, however, Rosalind’s findings have continued to drive breakthroughs in genetics, including DNA research, genetic engineering and rapid gene sequencing. Even genetic fingerprinting and modern forensics have their foundations in Rosalind’s hard work. The discovery of the double helix remains a true milestone in the history of science.
"Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated."
— Rosalind Franklin