The life of Rosalinda Franklin
The life of Rosalinda Franklin
Rosalinda Franklin was a British chemist best known for her role in the discovery of the structure of DNA, and for her pioneering use of X-ray diffraction. She was born in 1920 in London, England. She earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Cambridge University. She learned crystallography and X-ray diffraction, and applied these techniques to discover DNA fibers. Her photographs provided key insights into DNA structure. Many scientists used her photographs as evidence to support their DNA model and took credit for the discovery.
Unfortunately Franklin died of ovarian cancer in 1958, at age 37. Rosalind Elsie Franklin was born into an influential Jewish family on July 25, 1920, in Notting Hill, London, England. She displayed exceptional intelligence from early childhood; she started to show passion for science at an early age of fifteen. Franklin wanted to be a scientist. She received her education at several schools, including North London Collegiate School, where she excelled in science, among other things. She enrolled at Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1938 and studied chemistry. In 1941, she was awarded Sec ond Class Honors in her finals. Her award was accepted as a bachelor's degree in the qualifications for employment. She went on to work as an assistant research officer at the British Coal Utilisation Research Association, where she studied the porosity of coalwork that was the basis of her 1945 Ph.D. She studied t he physical chemistry of solid organic colloids with special reference to coal. In 1946, Franklin was appointed at the Laboratoire Central des Servic es Chimiques de l'Etat in Paris.
S he worked with crystallographer Jacques Mering . He taught her X-ray diffraction, which played an important role in her research that led to the discovery of the structure of DNA. In addition, Franklin used X-rays to create image s of crystalized solids in identifying inorgani c matter, not just single crystals. In January 1951, she began working as a research associate at the King's College London in the biophysics unit, with director John Randall.
She used her expertise and X-ray diffraction techniques to examine DNA fibers. She s tud ied DNA structure with X-ray diffraction, and made an amazing discovery with her student Raymond Gosling . They took pictures of DNA and discovered that there were two forms of it . One of their X-ray diffraction pictures of the "B" form of DNA ( Photograph 51 ) became famous as critical evidence in identifying the structure of DNA. The photo was acquired through 100 hours of X-ray exposure from a machine Franklin refined.
Franklin was known for her cautious and diligent work ethic, but she was also known for her conflict with colleague Maurice Wilkins, a conflict which ended up costing her dearly . In January 1953, Wilkins changed the course of DNA history by disclosing without Franklin's permission or knowledge her Photo 51 to competing scientist James Watson, who was working on his own DNA model with Francis Crick at Cambridge. The two scientists did in fact use Franklin's Photo 51 as the basis for their now famous model of DNA . They published it on March 7, 1953, and received a Nobel Prize in 1962. Crick and Watson were also able to take most of the credit for the finding . M uch of their work however was based on Franklin's photo s and findings.
Unfortunately, Franklin didn't know that these men based their Nature article on her research, and she didn't complain either . Franklin left King's College in March 1953 and relocated to Birkbeck College, where she studied the structure of the tobacco mosaic virus and the structure of RNA. Because Randall let Franklin leave on the condition that she would not work on DNA, she turned her attention back to studies of coal. In five years, Franklin published 17 papers on viruses, and her group laid the foundations for structural virology. In the fall of 1956, Franklin discovered that she had ovarian cancer.
She continued working for two years, despite her illness. She received an experimental chemotherapy treatment and experienced a 10-month remission and worked up until several weeks before her death on April 16, 1958, at the age
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