1920-1958

Rosalind Elise Franklin

Location: Fourth Floor, East Wing, North Wall, Sequence 1

Source: Jewish Chronicle (London)

Sponsor: Barnett and Ritta Rosenberg


In an all-too-short scientific career, Rosalind Franklin made contributions at the frontiers of carbon chemistry and molecular biology. Born in London to a prominent English-Jewish family, she studied physical chemistry at Cambridge University. Her studies on coal and graphite structure gave impetus to the field of carbon materials research. By controlling hydration, she obtained the best X-ray data available at the time on DNA, that clearly indicated its double helical nature with correct positions of the phosphates and bases, the helical diameter, spacing and repeat dimensions; these data led to the Watson-Crick structure. Her last work provided pioneering X-ray data on a virus. Discovering the microstructure of matter was the central passion of Franklin's life, and her talent, precision and keen analysis elicited fundamental insights from amorphous materials, suggesting organization often undetected by others.