Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) was a British scientist known for her contributions to the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA. She studied physical chemistry at the University of Cambridge. Later, she dedicated her time to investigating the physical chemistry of carbon and coal at the British Coal Utilisation Research Association. She could use this research for her doctoral thesis in Cambridge. She finished her PhD in 1945.
After her studies, Rosalind went to Paris to work in the State Chemical Laboratory with Jacques Méring, where they studied X-ray diffraction. A year later, in 1951, she joined the Biophysical Laboratory at King’s College, back in London, as a research fellow. There, she studied the DNA with the X-ray diffraction methods she had been using in Paris. Her studies and research led to helping the discoverers of the structure of the DNA, James Watson and Francis Crick, achieve this goal. It was through her knowledge of X-ray diffraction that Rosalind could take a picture of what the DNA looks like, and it was later that both Watson and Crick developed their theory. At the end of their discovery, they reluctantly expressed their gratitude to her and her work on the field.
Rosalind’s latest project was on the molecular structure of the tobacco mosaic virus. It is thought Rosalind passed away young due to her exposition to the X-rays. She died of cancer.