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Rosalind Franklin was born in a wealthy Jewish family in London, England. Franklin’sfather, Ellis Franklin, was a professor of electromagnetics and World War I history at Working Men’s College and later became a president of the school. Her Father’s first name is also hermiddle name. Rosalind Franklin studied at St Paul’s Girls’ School before entering college; shedecided to be a chemist while she was still in high school. After entering college in 1938, shemade her studies on chemistry. She had conceived the chemical structure of DNA during 1939 and painted a spiral pattern and graduated from Newnham College of Cambridge University in1941.
Franklin received her PHD from Cambridge University at that time Cambridge did notaward the BA degree to any female. student. In the fall of 1946, Franklin was appointed at the Laboratoire Central des Services Chimiques de l’Etat in France, where she worked with JacquesMering. In France, she learned about X-ray diffraction, which would play an important role inher research and later become her discovery of DNA.
In 1951, Franklin was offered a 3-yearresearch scholarship at King’s College in London and joined John Randall’s lab. With herknowledge, Franklin was to set up and improve the X-ray crystallography unit at King’s College.In John Randall’s laboratory, she crossed paths with Maurice Wilkins. She and Wilkins ledseparate research groups and had worked on different fields, although both of them wereconcerned with DNA study.
Before Randall gave Franklin responsibility for his DNA project, noone had worked for it for more than a month. Wilkins was away at that time, when he returned herealize that he misunderstood her role, he thought she were a technical assistant. Both scientistswere peers. His mistake, recognized but never overcome, was not surprised at the climate forwomen at the university back then, only males were allowed in the university dining rooms.
In May 1952, Franklin and her student Raymond Gosling conducted a long period of research toobtain an X-ray crystal diffraction photo of B type of DNA and assigned the Patterson functionspecially for solving X-ray crystal diffraction problems. They later named the picture the “Photo51”. In 1962, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins received the Nobel Prize for their discovery of double-helix model of DNA, but Rosalind Franklin had never had a chance to receive this award for she died from ovarian cancer four years earlier at the age of 37
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