Hello there WYSKers the world over! My name is Dale and I’ve been writing the Women in Science Wednesday articles here for the last year or so. Nice to meet ya! So, last week, my third collection of Women In Science biographies and comics was released, The Illustrated Women in Science: Year Three.
It brings together all 26 pieces I wrote for my third year of the column back when it was at MadArtLab, and today, in place of our usually scheduled Classic Women in Science feature, I thought I’d introduce you briefly to all twenty-six of them in the hope that, just maybe, if a few pique your interest, you might do an old writer a solid and pick up a copy or twelve for yourself, your local library, Thursday Book Club, or possibly each and every one of your assorted loved ones. So, let’s duck in, shall we?
#1: Kelly Deuerling! Unofficially known as The Queen of Windblown Sediments, her studies of erosion in Antarctica and Greenland have brought new insights into the interactions of wind, dust, and climate!
#2: Lynn Margulis! Her revival of the endosymbiosis theory rewrote the book on how modern cells came to be, and her Gaia Theory was a progenitor of many modern insights into the relation between the Earth’s chemical, weather, and biological systems!
#3: Sophie Germain! A brilliant mathematician of the early nineteenth century who had to hide behind a male name to be taken seriously, she worked on Fermat’s last theorem and on differential equation modeling!
#4: Helen Taussig! Thousands of children are alive today thanks to Taussig’s pioneering efforts to solve not only Blue Baby Syndrome, but to publicize the birth defects caused by thalidomide, and lobby the government for stricter drug controls!
#5: Madeline Girard! A master of using high tech gadgetry to record the minute details of animal behavior, she is most known for her rigorous categorization of the peacock spider’s intricate mating dance!
#6: Lavinia Waterhouse! A Gold Rush widow who became a financial and medical powerhouse in the early days of Sacramento, she exemplifies the complicated nature of medical progress on the frontier!
#7: Katherine Johnson! The star of Hidden Figures, her lifetime of contributing mathematical insight to all of NASA’s great 20th century achievements is the stuff of legend!
#8: Alice Eastwood! One of America’s greatest botanists, she also risked life and limb in the great San Francisco Earthquake to save precious biological specimens and reference works!
#9: Mildred Cohn! Are you, generally speaking, a fan of MRI technology? Then you need to read about Mildred Cohn, whose work in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance paved the way for it!
#10: Fan Chung! She uses the mathematical discipline of combinatorics to analyze massively interconnected systems like, oh, The Entire Internet!
#11: Dian Fossey! Her tragic story of fighting for the conservation of gorillas in the teeth of well-funded and ultimately murderous hunting interests is a testament to how much one determined person can accomplish!
#12: Hertha Ayrton! A powerful feminist and brilliant inventor, she improved the arc light and was an expert in fluid movement whose invention of a portable fan could have changed the face of World War I!
#13: Suzanne Corkin! One of the world’s great experts on the theory of how different kinds of memory are stored and accessed, her multi-decade study of lobotomy patient HM was a landmark!
#14: Elizabeth Hazen and Rachel Brown! In the wake of penicillin, humanity stood poised to be overrun by opportunistic fungal infections, at least until Hazen and Brown discovered our first effective and non-toxic anti-fungal agent!
#15: Agnes Mocsy! She studies the interactions of particles at temperatures that approximate those of the early universe, and you won’t BELIEVE what quarks get up to when things get hot!
#16: Hazel Bishop! Bishop developed the first long-lasting lipstick, made a fortune with her formula, and was ultimately cheated out of not only her company, but her own name, by a vampiric jerkwad!
#17: Annie Jump Cannon! One of the iron women of the Harvard Observatory’s Golden Age, she classified over 350,000 stars in forty four years of study!
#18: Harriet Brooks! A pioneer in radioactivity research, her work was central to the discovery of the transmutation of elements and the recoil effect that was itself central to the nuclear research of the fission era, though she herself was removed from the game early by an unfortunate marriage!
#19: Mileva Maric-Einstein! And speaking of unfortunate marriages, the first wife of Albert Einstein was a crucial partner in his early work, and was rewarded for her help by being forced to give up her first daughter, and being abandoned with her schizophrenic son during World War I in order that Albert could carry on an affair with his cousin!
#20: Dorothy Hodgkin! She showed just how much could be done with x-ray crystallography and computer analysis in the discovery of large molecular structures, including penicillin, Vitamin B-12, and insulin!
#21: Helen Sawyer Hogg! Before there was Sagan, there was Hogg, a rigorous astronomer who also made time to communicate the wonders of astronomy to a more popular audience through her long-running weekly columns!
#22: Lise Meitner! The theoretician behind nuclear fission, she was ultimately cheated out of her legacy by a German academic establishment that wanted to reclaim its prestige after the fall of the Nazi regime! Soooooo… not a real feel good story per se, but an important one!
#23: Jennifer Mather! One of the world’s leading cephalopod researchers, her work on octopus intelligence has been central to their recategorization as a semi-protected life form!
#24: Elizabeth Blackburn! Her discovery of telomerase not only made us more aware of the complicated mechanisms by which DNA replicates and protects itself, but contributed important insights into cell aging and cancer!
#25: Icie Hoobler! She researched the components of breast milk and in doing so created the first scientific standards for infant-mother nutrition!
#26: The Women of Neutrino Research! A blow-out episode featuring a dozen of the great women researchers currently investigating one of nature’s most mysterious particle, the neutrino!
So there ya have it, folks! Some stories of triumph and some of tragedy, links in a chain stretching from antiquity to the present day. It is the pleasure of my life to research and share these stories, and if there’s a spot on your shelf for a volume or two of my work, well, that would be just the Bee’s Knees (which Madeline Girard could probably tell you more about, but as it happens she’s not around at the moment).