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Famous Women Scientists

Notable Women in Science, Medicine, and Math


41. Libbie Hyman

Dates: December 6, 1888 - August 3, 1969

Known for: A zoologist, she graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, then worked in a research laboratory on campus. She produced a laboratory manual on vertebrate anatomy, and, when she could live on the royalties, she moved on to a writing career, focusing on invetebrates. Her 5-volume work on invertebrates was influential among zoologists.

42. Hypatia of Alexandria

Print Collector / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Dates: 355 or 370 - 415/416 C.E.

Known for: Hypatia was a pagan philosopher, mathematician and astronomer, who may have invented the plane astrolabe, the graduated brass hydromerter and the hydroscope, with her student and colleague, Synesius.

43. Doris F. Jonas

Dates: May 21, 1916 - 2002

Known for: A social anthropologist by education, she wrote on psychiatry, psychology and anthropology. Some of her work was co-authored with her first husband, David Jonas. She was an early writer on the way in relationship of mother-child bonding to language development.

44. Mary-Claire King

Dates: February 27, 1946 -

Known for: A researcher studying genetics and breast cancer, King is also noted for the then-surprising conclusion that humans and chimpanzees are quite closely related. She used genetic testing in the 1980s to reunite children with their families after a civil war in Argentina.

45. Nicole King

Dates: 1970 -

Known for: Nicole King studies the evolution of multicellular organisms, including the contribution of one-celled organisms (choanoflagellates), stimulated by bacteria, to that evolution.

46. Sofia Kovalevskaya

Dates: January 15, 1850 - February 10, 1891

Known for: Sofia Kovalevskaya, mathematician and novelist, was the first woman to hold a university chair in modern Europe and the first woman on the editorial staff of a mathematical journal.

47. Mary Leakey

Dates: February 6, 1913 - December 9, 1996

Known for: Mary Leakey studied early humans and hominids at Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli in East Africa. Some of her discoveries were originally credited to her husband and co-worker, Louis Leakey. Her discovery of footprints in 1976 confirmed that australopithecines walked on two feet 3.75 million years ago.

48. Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace, from a drawing by Alfred Edward Chalon RA
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

(Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace)

Dates: December 10, 1815 - November 27, 1852

Known for: Ada Lovelace created the concept of an operating system or software.

49. Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai, December 2009
Getty Images / Peter Macdiarmid

Dates: April 1, 1940 - September 25, 2011

Known for:  Founder of the Green Belt movement in Kenya, Wangari Maathai was the first woman in central or eastern Africa to earn a Ph.D., and the first woman head of a university department in Kenya.  She was also the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

50. Lynn Margulis

Dates: March 15, 1938 - November 22, 2011

Known for: researching DNA inheritance through mitochondria and chloroplasts, and originating the endosymbiotic theory of cells, showing how cells cooperate in the process of adaptation. Lynn Margulis was married to Carl Sagan, with whom she had two sons. Her second marriage was to Thomas Margulis, a crystallographer, with whom she had a daughter and a son.

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