Rosalyn Franklin “Dark Lady of Science”
Early Interest in Nucleic Acids • 1939: 19-year-old student at Newnham College • Studying chemistry • Speculative sketch of nucleic acid • “Geometrical basis for inheritance?”
Work with Coal • Thesis was based on the holes in coal • 1945: Received her PhD from Cambridge in physical chemistry • Research had important industrial applications
X-Ray Diffraction • One of the most capable practioners of the field • Helped refine the technology • 1951 moved to King’s College to do x-ray diffraction work
King’s College • JT Randall asked her to work on the structure of DNA • Believed x-ray work exclusively to herself • Wilkins thought he was supposed to work with her • Wilkins’ mentality • Unhappy working atmosphere
Rosalyn’s Contributions • Corrected Watson and Crick on their original model • Her data gave full dimensions of the unit cell, its length, width and angles • Provided the basic scientific evidence for the structure of the nucleic acid, DNA • Phosphate groups lie on the outside of the molecule • DNA chain has a helical conformation
Work Unrecognized • 1952 Franklin had a full report written for the MRC • 1962 Watson, Crick and Wilkins received the Nobel Prize • Franklin did not, died 1958 • Franklin’s memory was honored in the spring of 2000 with the opening of the Franklin-Wilkins Hall at King’s College
References • Anonymous. Rosalyn Franklin. http://www2.carthage.edu/~pfaffle/hgp/Franklin.html Accessed 20 June 2005. • Franklin, S. My aunt, the DNA pioneer. 24 April 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/ni/sci/tech/2895681.stm Accessed 20 June 2005.