British Women Scientists

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Throughout history, there have been many British women scientists who have made significant contribution to the field. The list includes many familiar and great British female scientists such as Ada Lovelace, Rosalind Franklin, Dorothy Hodgkin, Marie Stopes, Agnes Arber.
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 1 
Rosalind Franklin
11
Birthdate: July 25, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Notting Hill, London, England
Died: April 16, 1958
Chemist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin is remembered for her pathbreaking X-ray diffraction studies of DNA, which helped in the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins later. She also worked on the molecular structures of viruses. 
 2 
Ada Lovelace
(Countess of Lovelace)
Ada Lovelace
46
Birthdate: December 10, 1815
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: November 27, 1852

Ada Lovelace was a mathematician known for her work on the Analytical Engine, a mechanical general-purpose computer proposed by Charles Babbage. Many believe that Lovelace was the first to recognize the potential of computers. It is also believed that she published the first algorithm after realizing that the algorithm could be carried out by a machine like the Analytical Engine.

 3 
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
(Astronomer, Astrophysicist)
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
6
Birthdate: May 10, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wendover, Buckinghamshire, England
Died: December 7, 1979

After losing her father at 4, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was raised singlehandedly by her mother. The incredibly talented Cecilia studied at Cambridge but failed to secure a degree because of her gender. She later joined Harvard and opposing prevalent beliefs, proposed that stars were mainly made of hydrogen and helium. 

 4 
Dorothy Hodgkin
(Biochemist)
Dorothy Hodgkin
4
Birthdate: May 12, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt
Died: July 29, 1994

Dorothy Hodgkin received the 1964 Nobel Prize for mapping the structure of penicillin and Vitamin B12. She is also known for her work on insulin. Beginning her work on structure of an organic compound by using X-ray crystallography as an undergraduate student, she later developed it further and used it to determine the three-dimensional structure of complex organic molecules.

 5 
Mary Somerville
(Mathematician, Linguist, Translator, Astronomer, Scientist)
Mary Somerville
6
Birthdate: December 26, 1780
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jedburgh
Died: November 28, 1872

One of the two pioneering female honorary members of the Royal Astronomical Society, Mary Somerville was a 19th-century polymath and science writer. Though she specialized in math and astronomy, she was also well-versed in botany and geology. The Connection of the Physical Sciences remains her most notable work.

 6 
Marie Stopes
(Paleobotanist & Women’s Rights Activists)
Marie Stopes
4
Birthdate: October 15, 1880
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: October 2, 1958

Apart from being a successful botanist, Marie Stopes was also a popular activist, known for her contribution to the feminist cause. A leading supporter of birth control, she established the UK’s first clinic for family planning. She was also known for her books Married Love and Wise Parenthood.

 7 
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
(British Astrophysicist Who Discovered the First Radio Pulsars)
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
5
Birthdate: July 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lurgan, Northern Ireland

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars. She graduated from the University of Glasgow and pursued an academic career. In 2018, she received the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her discovery of radio pulsars. She donated the three million dollars she received as prize money.  

 8 
Helen Sharman
(Chemist)
Helen Sharman
4
Birthdate: May 30, 1963
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sheffield,England

The first British person to fly into space, Helen Sharman also became the first female astronaut to visit the Mir space station. She was selected from over 13,000 applicants to be part of the Project Juno program. She was also as a chemist for the chocolate manufacturer Mars.

 9 
Sophie Wilson
(computer scientist)
Sophie Wilson
8
Birthdate: 1957 AD
Birthplace: Leeds

The brain behind the Acorn Micro-Computer, Sophie Wilson also contributed to the BBC Micro and ARM architecture. During her first summer vacation at Cambridge, she designed an automated cow-feeder. Born Roger Wilson, she went through a sex-change surgery in 1994. She is also associated with local theater groups.

 10 
Gertrude Jekyll
(Horticulturist, Painter, Gardener, Non-fiction writer, Botanist, Architect)
Gertrude Jekyll
6
Birthdate: November 29, 1843
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: December 8, 1932

Landscape architect Gertrude Jekyll was born into an affluent family and grew up in a refined environment, learning music and traveling. Initially interested in painting, she gave it up to focus on gardening when she developed eyesight problems. She built around 400 gardens and also collaborated with Sir Edwin Lutyens.

 11 
Ruth Lawrence
(Mathematician, Topologist, University teacher)
Ruth Lawrence
3
Birthdate: August 2, 1971
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brighton
 12 
Anne McLaren
(Geneticist)
Anne McLaren
4
Birthdate: April 26, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 7, 2007

Geneticist Anne McLaren is remembered for her pioneering research in embryology that paved the way for further research in fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization. The Royal Society fellow had also appeared as a child actor in the film adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel Things to Come.

 13 
Mary Leakey
(British Paleoanthropologist Who Discovered the First Fossilised 'Proconsul Skull')
Mary Leakey
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1913
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: December 9, 1996

British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey had exhibited her interest in drawing and archaeology as a kid. Most of her career was spent working alongside her husband, Louis Leakey. She was in charge of many excavation projects in Kenya. Her discoveries include the first Proconsul skull fossil and 15 new animal species.

 14 
Margaret Murray
(Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Egyptologist)
Margaret Murray
3
Birthdate: July 13, 1863
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kolkata
Died: November 13, 1963

British Egyptologist and anthropologist Margaret Murray was also a scholar of witchcraft. Her best-known work is her 1921 book The Witch Cult in Western Europe, which inspired later witchcraft scholars such as Gerald B. Gardner. The University College London professor had worked in places such as Egypt, Malta, and Petra.

 15 
Steve Shirley
(Computer scientist, Feminist)
Steve Shirley
4
Birthdate: September 16, 1933
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dortmund

Born Vera Buchthal, Steve Shirley moved from Germany to Britain as a child refugee during the Nazi regime. Later, going by the name Stephanie Brook, she began learning coding. Battling a male-dominated workplace environment, she changed her name to Steve. The celebrated scientist now runs a charitable foundation.

 16 
Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
(philosopher, scientist, poet, science fiction writer)
Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
3
Birthdate: 1623 AD
Birthplace: Colchester, England
Died: December 15, 1673

Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish was an English poet, philosopher, playwright, fiction writer, and scientist. Margaret, who had the audacity to publish her works without using a pen name at a time when female writers remained anonymous, was ahead of her time. Not surprisingly, she was considered eccentric and earned the nickname Mad Madge. Her works gained popularity in the 1980s.

 17 
Helen Willetts
(British Meteorologist Who Is Best Known for Her Work with Various BBC Channels)
Helen Willetts
3
Birthdate: February 10, 1972
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chester, England

British meteorologist Helen Willetts has been a known face on various BBC channels, such as BBC World News, BBC Radio 4, and BBC Radio 2. Considered one of the sexiest presenters on TV by the media, this TRIC Award-winning weather presenter has also played badminton for Wales internationally.

Anna Atkins
3

Apart from being a botanist, Anna Atkins was also known for releasing some of the first botanical photographs. The daughter of a scientist, she also illustrated her father’s written works. She remains the first-known person to have used photography for a scientific purpose. She was also part of the London Botanical Society.

 19 
Brenda Milner
(Neuroscientist, Psychologist, University teacher)
Brenda Milner
4
Birthdate: July 15, 1918
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Manchester

Considered a pioneer in her field, centenarian neuropsychologist Brenda Milner is known for her immense contribution to clinical neuropsychology. Especially known for her work on memory and cognition, she has contributed immensely to the study of temporal lobe. Her papers on the frontal lobes in problem-solving and the lateralization of hemispheric function in language are also highly regarded by scholars.

 20 
Christina Pagel
(Researcher)
Christina Pagel
3
Birthplace: London, England
 21 
Venetia Phair
(Amateur astronomer)
Venetia Phair
3
Birthdate: July 11, 1918
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Died: April 30, 2009
 22 
Susan Greenfield, Baroness Greenfield
3
Birthdate: October 1, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hammersmith

Apart from being a successful scientist with a focus on neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, Susan Greenfield teaches pharmacology at the Lincoln College, Oxford. She is also part of the House of Lords and has penned a sci-fi novel. She supports causes such as Dignity in Dying, too.

 23 
Hertha Ayrton
(British Engineer, Mathematician, Physicist and Inventor Known for Her Work With the 'Electric Arcs')
Hertha Ayrton
2
Birthdate: April 28, 1854
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Portsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England
Died: August 26, 1923

Hertha Ayrton was a British engineer,  physicist, mathematician, and inventor. She is remembered for her work on electric arcs and ripple marks in sand and water, for which she was awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society. As a woman in the 19th century, she had to face innumerable struggles in her career. She was also a passionate suffragist. 

 24 
Mary Everest Boole
(mathematician, philosopher)
Mary Everest Boole
2
Birthdate: 1832 AD
Birthplace: Wickwar
Died: 1916 AD
 25 
Margaret Burbidge
(British-American Observational Astronomer and Astrophysicist Known for Her Contributions to the Theory of ‘Quasars')
Margaret Burbidge
2
Birthdate: August 12, 1919
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Davenport, Stockport, England
Died: April 5, 2020

Margaret Burbidge was a British-American observational astronomer and astrophysicist. She was the first author of the influential B2FH paper and one of the founders of stellar nucleosynthesis. She held several leadership and administrative posts and was well known for her work opposing discrimination against women in astronomy. In 1988, she was awarded the Albert Einstein World Award of Science. 

 26 
Marie Cassidy
(Pathologist)
Marie Cassidy
2
Birthdate: 1951 AD
Birthplace: Rutherglen, Scotland
 27 
Müge Çevik
(Physician)
Müge Çevik
2
Birthplace: Turkey
 28 
Kathleen Ollerenshaw
(Mathematician)
Kathleen Ollerenshaw
1
Birthdate: October 1, 1912
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Withington, Manchester, England
Died: August 10, 2014
 29 
Elsie Widdowson
(Nutritionist)
Elsie Widdowson
1
Birthdate: October 21, 1906
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 14, 2000
 30 
Agnes Arber
(Botanist)
Agnes Arber
1
Birthdate: February 23, 1879
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London
Died: March 22, 1960

British botanist Agnes Arber is best remembered for her research on the anatomy of monocotyledons. She also scripted history as the first elected female member of the Fellow of The Royal Society. Her paleobotanist husband had also taught her at Cambridge. Her later works were mostly on plant philosophy.

 31 
Maheshi Ramasamy
(Physician)
Maheshi Ramasamy
3
Birthplace: Sri Lanka
 32 
Eva Crane
(Researcher)
Eva Crane
1
Birthdate: June 12, 1912
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 6, 2007
 33 
Janet Lane-Claypon
1
Birthdate: February 3, 1877
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lincolnshire
Died: July 17, 1967
 34 
Muriel Wheldale Onslow
(British Biochemist Known for Her Work Concerning the Biochemistry of Anthocyanin Pigment Molecules)
Muriel Wheldale Onslow
0
Birthdate: March 31, 1880
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Birmingham, England
Died: May 19, 1932

Muriel Wheldale Onslow was a British biochemist. She is best remembered for her work concerning the biochemistry of anthocyanin pigment molecules. Wheldale Onslow was also one of the first women to be appointed as a lecturer at Cambridge.

 35 
Mary Horner Lyell
0
Birthdate: October 9, 1808
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Pancras, London, England
Died: April 24, 1873
 36 
Elizabeth Gardner
(Former Physicist best known for her groundbreaking work on a phase transition known as the Gardner transition and on disordered networks)
Elizabeth Gardner
0
Birthdate: August 25, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cheshire, United Kingdom
Died: June 18, 1988
 37 
Edith Humphrey
0
Birthdate: September 11, 1875
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: February 25, 1978
 38 
Edith Rebecca Saunders
1
Birthdate: October 14, 1865
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brighton, England
Died: June 6, 1945

Known especially for her work on trait inheritance in plants, Edith Rebecca Saunders has been described as the mother of British plant genetics. Beginning her career as a botany teacher at Newnham College, she later became the director of the Balfour Biological Laboratory for Women, concurrently continuing with her own research works, publishing series of papers on inheritance in plants.

 39 
Sarah Thomas
(Fashion model)
Sarah Thomas
0
Birthdate: March 17, 1980
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Swardeston, England
 40 
Marta Tufet
(Biologist)
Marta Tufet
0
Birthplace: United Kingdom
 41 
Chrisanthi Avgerou
(Computer scientist)
Chrisanthi Avgerou
0
Birthdate: 1954 AD
Birthplace: Greece

Born in Greece, Chrisanthi Avgerou later pursued her studies and research work in information systems in England. The LSE alumna is now a professor at the same institute. She is known for her research on the role of ICT in bringing about organizational change and socio-economic development.