Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brainy Girls

Having a good namesake is always a plus. Of course, academically-inspired names for boys abound--up until the last century or so, women in the sciences were pretty rare (and often given less credibility than their male colleagues). While many of these names are unknown today, most were quite renowned in their time.
And do I freely admit to being selective in this list by attempting to include as many fields, and unusual names, as possible. (there are so, so many more noteworthy Marias & Marys especially, as well as female physicians & astronomers!)

  • Abella (medicine, 1300s)*
  • Augusta Ada Lovelace (mathematics, d. 1852; constructed algorithms to be processed by a colleague's "analytical engine", and is thus considered the first computer programmer)
  • Aglaonike/Aganice (astronomy, ≈200 BC; known for predicting lunar eclipses)
  • Agnodice (medicine/midwifery, ≈400 BC)
  • Anna Ǻkerhjelm (archaeology, d. 1693; posthumously ennobled for her work)
  • Anna Atkins (botany, d. 1871; authored first photographically-illustrated book)
  • Anna Morandi Manzolini (anatomy, d. 1774)
  • Annie Jump Cannon (astronomy, d. 1941; co-created Harvard star classification system)
  • Astrid Cleve (biology, d. 1968; her 5-volume encyclopedia on Swedish & Finnish diatoms is still in use today)
  • Barbara McClintock (biology, d. 1992; only woman to receive an unshared Nobel prize in medicine, for her discovery of gene transposition)
  • Beatrix Potter [yes, the children's author] (mycology, d. 1943; her drawings are still used in fungus identification today)
  • Caroline Herschel (astronomy, d. 1848; discoverer of several objects, including 8 comets and 14 nebulae)
  • Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (astrophysics, d. 1979; determined stellar compositions by their spectra)
  • Celia Grillo Boromeo (mathematics, d. 1777; said to be able to solve any mathematical problem given to her)
  • Constance Calenda (optometry, 1400s)
  • Dorothea Erlexben (medicine, d, 1762; first female doctor in Germany)
  • Elena Cornaro Piscopia (philosophy/mathematics, d. 1684; first woman to earn a Ph.D.)
  • Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell (medicine, d. 1910; first and second female doctors in the US)
  • Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (medicine, d. 1917; several firsts, including first female doctor in the UK)
  • Elsa Beata Bunge (botany, d. 1819)
  • Ellen Swallow Richards (chemistry, d. 1911; co-founded the American Association of University Women)
  • Émilie du Châtelet (physics, d. 1749; her translation/commentary of Newton's Principia Mathematica is still the French standard)
  • Emily Warren Roebling (engineering, d. 1903; oversaw construction & completion of the Brooklyn Bridge after the original project leader fell ill)
  • Amelie Emmy Noether (mathematics, d. 1935; a subset of algebraic structures is named for her)
  • Enheduanna (astronomy/mathematics, ≈2250 BC)
  • Etheldred Benett (geology, d. 1845)
  • Eva Ekeblad (agronomy, d. 1786; discovered new uses for potatoes, including makeup/powder, flour, and alcohol)
  • Faustina Pignatelli (physics/mathematics, d. 1785)
  • Florence Bascom (geology, d. 1945; first woman to work for the USGS)
  • Gerty Theresa Cori (biochemistry, d. 1957; first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine)
  • Saint Hildegard (botany/medicine, d. 1179)
  • Henrietta Swan Leavitt (astronomy/mathematics, d. 1921; discovered Leavitt's Law, which allows accurate estimation of the distance of variable stars)
  • Phoebe Sarah "Hertha" Ayrton (engineering/physics, d. 1923; first female elected member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers)
  • Hypatia of Alexandria (mathematics, d. 415)
  • Ida Noddack (chemistry/physics, d. 1978; first proposed/predicted the concept of nuclear fission)
  • Inge Lehmann (geophysics/seismology, d. 1994; proposed the current layered-core model of the earth's interior)
  • Irène Joliot-Curie (chemistry, d. 1956)
  • Isala Van Diest (medicine, d. 1916; first female doctor in Belgium)
  • Jane Colden (botany, d. 1766)
  • Jane Sharp (midwifery, 1600s; her book is still in print today)
  • Jeanne Villepreux-Power (marine biology, d. 1871; first to use aquariums to study marine life)
  • Johanna Mestorf (archaeology, d. 1909)
  • Katherine Blodgett (physics, d. 1979) 
  • Katherine Johnson (mathematics; calculated NASA trajectories pre-computer)
  • Kirstine Meyer (physics, d. 1931; founded the Danish journal of physics, Fysisk Tidsskrift)
  • Laura Bassi (physics, d. 1778)
  • Lise Meitner (physics, d. 1964; offered a position on the Manhattan Project, which she refused on moral grounds)
  • Maria Lovisa Ǻhrborg (medicine, d. 1881; first female doctor in Sweden)
  • Margaret Cavendish (natural philosophy, d. 1673)
  • Margaret Eliza Maltby (physics, d. 1944)
  • Maria/Mary the Jewess (alchemy/chemistry, ≈200 AD; invented several types of chemical apparatus)
  • Maria Dalle Donne (medicine, d. 1842; first woman to earn a doctorate of medicine)
  • Maria Gaetana Agnesi (mathematics, d. 1799)
  • Maria Sibylla Merian (botany/entomology, d. 1717)
  • Maria Mitchell (astronomy, d. 1889)
  • Maria Telkes (physics, d. 1995; inventor of many solar & thermal devices, including a thermoelectric generator and a portable solar-powered desalinization unit)
  • Marie Crous (mathematics, 1600s; introduced France to decimal system)
  • Marie Curie (chemistry/physics, d. 1934; first person to get Nobel Prizes in two subjects)
  • Mary Agnes Chase (botany, d. 1963)
  • Mary Anning (paleontology, d. 1847)
  • Mary Engle Pennington (bacteriology/engineering, d. 1952; first head of the USDA's Food Research Lab)
  • Maud Menten (biochemistry, d. 1960)
  • Merit-Ptah (medicine, ≈2700 BC, the earliest recorded female scientist)
  • Mercuriade (medicine, 1300s)
  • Nettie Stevens (genetics, d. 1912; co-discovered XY sex determination)
  • Nicole-Reine Lepaute (astronomy/mathematics, d. 1788)
  • Praskovya Uvarova (archaeology, d. 1924)
  • Rebecca de Guarna (medicine, 1300s)
  • Rosalind Franklin (biophysicist, d. 1958; helped discover the DNA double helix, her work was used by Watson and Crick)
  • Sofia Kovalevskaya (mathematics, d. 1891; first woman to earn a doctorate of mathematics)
  • Sophia Brahe (horticulture/astronomy, d. 1643)
  • Marie-Sophie Germain (mathematics, d. 1831)
  • Trotula of Salerno (gynecology, 1000s)
  • Williamina Fleming (astronomy. d. 1911; discovered many objects, including 59 nebulae, 10 novae, and over 300 variable stars)
  • Wang Zhenyi (astronomy, d. 1797)

*If I've not listed any accomplishments, the specifics either have been lost to time, or are too complex to fit in a concise note.

Thanks to a few anonymous messages, adding some amazing women I'd initially missed!

No comments:

Post a Comment