Pierre Curie- Finkbeiner Test

Most people who write about a women scientist follow a specific approach where the scientist is first described as a woman before being acknowledged as a scientist. In response, a series of rules were developed where the writing cannot include:

  • she’s a woman
  • her husband’s job
  • her child care situation
  • her nurturing nature
  • how she was surprised by competitiveness
  • how she’s a role model for other women
  • how she’s “the first woman to…”

One of my first FSL blog posts was about my idol since I was a little girl, Marie Curie. Although I had no intentions to, I also am guilty to have followed a similar approach. On Tuesday’s session, Catherine proposed an idea for the weekly blog post: to break all the rule of the Finkbeiner Test when writing about a male scientist.

Pierre Curie was born on May 15, 1859, to Sophie-Claire and Eugène Curie. Since a young age he demonstrated a strong aptitude for geometry and mathematics. When he was only 21, he and his older brother Jacque invented the Curie Scale, a highly sensitive instrument that provided precise measurements required for their experiments with electric potentiality. 

Image Source: Unknown Via Wikimedia

In 1984, Curie was introduced to Maria Sklodowska, whom he would marry one year later. Together, they worked on isolating polonium and radium. In 1903, they were awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for their research regarding spontaneous radiation, thus becoming the husband of the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. 

Image Source: Unknown via Wikimedia

They have two daughters, Irène ( who would later earn a Nobel Prize in Chemistry) and Ève. On a busy rainy day in April 1906, while crossing the street, Curie slipped and was run over by a heavy carriage, crushing his skull and killing him instantly. He was 46 years old. 

. When doing this challenge, I felt I gave more emphasis on who Pierre Curie was rather than focusing on his great achievements and legacies. It allowed me to realize that female scientists are too often treated this way, but I had never previously given much thought to it. This exercise reinforced the idea that a scientist should have their scientific discoveries and contributions describe first and foremost, regardless of male or female.


Dr.Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard

When we were studying the development of organisms in my biology class, I began to wonder which scientists had made discoveries in the field that we were studying. One of the people I came across was Dr.Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard who is a Nobel laureate. She received her award in the category of Physiology or Medicine in 1995.

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard | Bastian Greshake via Flickr

After receiving her doctorate in genetics, she worked at multiple research facilities including the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. It was here that she did her groundbreaking research into how the embryos of fruit flies develop. She and her partner spent a year crossbreeding approximately 40,000 fruit flies. The sheer scale of the research and effort required to conduct it truly amazes me. They would observe the mosquitoes under a microscope and eventually identified the 15 genes that are responsible for the development from the larva to the fly. When breeding the flies they would mutate the fruit flies genetics to see what gene changed and what it changed.

Female Mexican Fruit Fly | Jack Dykinga, U.S. Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia

Now you may be wondering what the big deal is about, I mean they’re just fruit flies right. Well in actuality, fruit flies share around 60% of their DNA with humans. As a result, these 15 genes are also found in humans and have helped scientists to further understand the development of organisms. The work conducted by Dr.Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is truly amazing.


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