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There was another woman, besides Rosalind Franklin, who engaged in X-ray chrystallography who actually won a Nobel Prize. Her name was Dorothy Hodgkin. Her work was with proteins, not DNA, and she was awarded the prize in chemistry in 1964, only two years after Watson, Crick and Wilkins shared the prize for the structure of the DNA molecule. Rosalind Franklin did not get the prize because by that time she was dead.

Dorothy Hodgkin was born in Cairo, Egypt, in May of 1910, as Dorothy Mary Crowfoot. She was the daughter of the British Archeologist John Winter Crowfoot and Grace Mary Hood, also a British archeologist. Separated from her parents during World War I, she remained in England and was only reunited with her mother for a year at the end of the war.  Four of her uncles (her mother's brothers) died in the war. Her parents, however, finally moved to Khartoum, Sudan, and Dorothy began her studies in England at Sir John Leman High School in Beccles, North Suffolk in 1921.  

Hodgkin became interested in chemistry at an early age and eventually entered the University of Oxford at the age of 18, with a chemistry major. She received her doctorate from the University of Cambridge.  She was awarded a fellowship to Somerville College in 1933 and in 1934 moved back to Oxford.  She became its first fellow and tutor in chemistry in 1936, eventually having Margaret Roberts, who became prime minister of the UK as Margaret Thatcher, as one of her students during the 1940s. Oddly, despite their total disagreement over politics (Hodgkin was a communist,) they remained friends.  In 1953, Hodgkin and her associates, including Leslie Orgel, traveled to Cambridge to see the model of DNA constructed by Watson and Crick. In 1960 she was appointed Wolfson Research Professor by the Royal Society, a post she held until 1970.

She and her colleagues are credited with a number of important discoveries, including the dimensional structures of biomolecules, and the structure of penicillin and steroids, as well as vitamin b12, for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize. Some of her greatest work was on the structure of insulin, which undoubtedly saved many lives. In 1945 she became the first person to use a computer for work on a biochemical problem.

She married Thomas Lionel Hodgkin in 1937 and eventually became embroiled in her husband's political activities to the point that she was banned from travel to the United States in 1953.  Thomas Hodgkin was an off and on again member of the Communist Party and at one point an adviser to Kwame Nkrumah, president of Ghana.  After working for the Colonial Office of the UK he devoted his major efforts to African history and he published several books on the subject. Interestingly, his wife published under her maiden name of Crowfoot until 1949 and afterword as Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin.  

She received many honors, in addition to the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and was even elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  The one great blot on her career was when she published a forward praising the chemical accomplishments of Elena Ceaușescu, the wife of the dictator of Romania.  It was discovered later that Elena Ceaușescu had no real training and had obtained her doctorate because of her husband and a team of real chemists. Elena Ceaușescu and her husband Nicolae were executed by firing squad after a summery trial when the army overthrew the Communist government of Romania following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  

Internet References:

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin http://www.chemheritage.org/...

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin http://www.csupomona.edu/...

Dorothy Hodgkin http://www.nobelprize.org/...

Dorothy Hodgkin http://en.wikipedia.org/...

Thatcher and Hodgkin: How Chemistry Overcame Politics http://www.bbc.com/...

Originally posted to Desert Scientist on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 04:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech, History for Kossacks, and Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism.

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