Rosalind Franklin was born in London. England on July 25, 1920. In high school, she excelled at science and realized she wanted to become a scientist at the age of 15. After graduating from Newnham College in 1941, she earned her doctorate in physical chemistry from Cambridge University in 1945. In Paris, where she worked after Cambridge, Franklin began to use X-ray diffraction techniques, which would ultimately lead her to discovering a vital piece in figuring out the structure of DNA. She then returned to King’s College London in 1951 to work as a research associate.
Though her research partner, Maurice Wilkins, treated her as a technical assistant, Franklin continued to work hard at the DNA project they were assigned. She used X-rays to take photographs of the DNA structure, and Wilkins showed these photos to James Watson. Only a few weeks later, James Watson and his peer Francis Crick had figured out, and written a publication on the helical structure of DNA, and Franklin later wrote a supporting article of their findings.
Franklin went on to do work and research on the tobacco mosaic virus, as well as the polio virus in Birkbeck College. However, in 1956, she fell ill with ovarian cancer, and died in April 16, 1958, at the age of 37.
Watson, Crick and Wilkins all received a joint Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1962 for the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, but since Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously, Franklin did not receive the due amount of credit she deserved in this pivotal science discovery.
Media credit: Scishow