Celebrating Pioneering Women In Science

Hidden no more! AWIS celebrates the many achievements women scientists have made. 

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Despite severe gender bias, these bold and brilliant women paved the way for future generations. Help us share their accomplishments so they too can be household names like Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking. Be sure to check back later, we will continue to add to this list. If you want to suggest someone, please email awis@awis.org.

Source: Public Domain
Dr. Isabella Aiona Abbott, PhD
Professor

Isabella Aiona Abbott became the first native Hawaiian woman to earn a PhD in science, paving the way for all the future women who pursue a science degree.
Credit: Johnson/Business Insider
Sylvia Acevedo
Rocket Scientist

Sylvia Acevedo is a rocket scientist, entrepreneur, tech executive, and author of "Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist."
Lori Alvord
Source: Changing the Face of Medicine
Lori Alvord
Surgeon

Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord is the first Navajo woman to be certified in surgery and is a role model for the Navajo community.
Dr. Janaki Ammal
Credit: John Innes Archives/Wikimedia Commons
Dr. Janaki Ammal, PhD
Botanist

Dr. Janaki Ammal was India’s first female botanist and her work encouraged India to protect its rich biodiversity.
Caroline Still Anderson
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Caroline Still Anderson, PhD
Physician

Dr. Caroline Still Anderson was a physician dedicated to education and improving the social and political conditions for other African-Americans.
AWIS In Memoriam Evelyn M. Anderson
Source: Wikipedia
Evelyn M. Anderson
Biochemistry

Evelyn M. Anderson was an American physiologist and biochemist, most known for her co-discovery of adrenocorticotropic hormone in 1934.
Mary Anning
Detail of a portrait of Mary Anning by an unknown artist
Mary Anning
Paleontologist

Mary Anning found the first Ichthyosaurus, a marine reptile, when she was twelve. She also found the first complete skeleton of a Plesiosaurus and the first Pterosaur.
Dr. Virginia Apgar
Photo source: Wikipedia
Dr. Virginia Apgar, PhD
Physician

Dr. Virginia Apgar was an American physician known for her method of assessing newborn viability called the “Apgar score.”
June Bacon-Bercey
Source: Maurice Seymour, Courtesy Dail St. Claire
June Bacon-Bercey
Meterologist

June Bacon-Bercey was an on-air meteorologist and the first African-American to earn an undergraduate degree in meteorology from UCLA.
Dr. Patricia Bath
Photo credit: Jemal Countess
Dr. Patricia Bath, PhD
Chemist

Dr. Patricia Bath is an ophthalmologist known for inventing the Laserphaco Probe, a tool used in cataract surgery, and the first Black female doctor to receive a medical patent.
Source: Hepatitis B Foundation
Joan Block
Nursing

Joan Block is a nationally recognized Hepatitis B outreach, education, and patient advocacy leader.
Bessie Blount
Bessie Blount
Physical Therapist

Bessie Blount was a physical therapist and inventor that created a medical device that could feed patients. After she graduated, she helped World War II veteran amputees regain mobility.
Marie Van Brittan Brown Nurse and Inventor
Source: New York Times / Redux
Marie Van Brittan Brown
Nursing

Marie Van Brittan Brown was an African American woman who contributed her livelihood to the invention of the first home security system. She was born in 1922 in Queens, New York, and saw the importance of protection in her area - while being a nurse, and living home alone.
Beth Brown
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Beth Brown, PhD
Astrophysicist

Dr. Beth Brown was an American astrophysicist and the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Alexa Canady
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Alexa Canady, PhD
Neurosurgeon

Dr. Alexa Canady is the first African-American woman to become a neurosurgeon and has helped thousands of pediatric patients over her 31-year career.
Source: NASA
Dr. Kalpana Chawla, PhD
Astronaut and aerospace engineer

Dr. Kalpana Chawla was an astronaut and aerospace engineer on the space shuttle Columbia, and the first Indian woman in space.
Dr. May Edward Chinn
Source: Changing the Face of Medicine
Dr. May Edward Chinn, PhD
Physician

Dr. May Edward Chinn was a physician who advocated for new cancer detection methods and was the first black woman to hold an internship at Harlem Hospital.
Dr. Gloria Twine Chisum
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Gloria Twine Chisum, PhD
Psychologist

Dr. Gloria Twine Chisum is an experimental psychologist known for creating protective eyewear for pilots suitable for extreme conditions.
Public Domain
Dr. Margaret Chung
Physician

Dr. Margaret Chung was the first Chinese American woman to become a physician. She founded one of the first Western medical clinics in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1920s where celebrities sought treatment from her.
Source: St Petersburg Times | AP
Dr. Eugenie Clark, PhD
Ichthyologist

Dr. Eugenie Clark was an ichthyologist who was noted for her research, specifically on poisonous fishes and the behavior of sharks in their environments.
Dr. France Cordova
Photo: NSF/Stephen Voss
Dr. France Cordova, PhD
Astrophysicist

Dr. France Córdova is known for her work as an astrophysicist in the Los Alamos National Laboratory where she studied white dwarfs and pulsars.
Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler
Source: Public Domain
Rebecca Lee Crumpler
Physician

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African American woman to obtain an M.D. degree and worked as a nurse in Boston, Massachusetts.
Madam Curie
Source: Wikipedia
Marie Curie
Physicist

Marie Curie was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize for discovering radium and polonium. Her work in radiation paved the way for new cancer treatments.
Dr. Marie Maynard Daly
Source: Queens College Silhouette Yearbook 1942
Dr. Marie Maynard Daly, PhD
Biochemist

Dr. Marie Daly was the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in chemistry in the United States. She left a lasting legacy by a scholarship fund for minority students in science programs.
Ella Cara Deloria
Source: Public Domain
Ella Cara Deloria
Ethnographer

Ella Cara Deloria, a Sioux ethnographer and linguist, produced research that served as the foundation of Native American anthropology.
Public Domain
Mildred Dresselhaus
Physicist

Dresselhaus was known for her accomplishments in the field of physics and the organic elements. Her discoveries led to her nickname, the "Queen of Carbon Science."
Annie Easley
Annie Easley
Mathematician and Computer Scientist

Annie Easley, an African American mathematician, and computer scientist was born in April 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her entire childhood was spent dreaming of becoming a nurse, but once she attended high school, she slowly switched her interest to pharmacy.
Gertrude Elion
Source: National Cancer Institute/Wikimedia Commons
Gertrude Elion
Biochemist

Gertrude Elion was a biochemist and pharmacologist who helped develop drugs using “rational drug design” to attack pathogens without harming human cells.
Dr. Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee, PhD
Physician

Dr. Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee was a physician who established the Southeast Neighborhood House to give black communities greater access to healthcare.
Dijanna Figueroa
Source:
Dijanna Figueroa, PhD
Marine Scientist

Dr. Dijanna Figueroa, the “Deep Ocean Doctor,” is a marine scientist and educator who works extensively to make STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) education more accessible to all children. In 2005, she was featured in James Cameron’s Aliens of the Deep, a documentary that explores the Mid-Ocean Ridge. She has also appeared on […]
Dr. Rosalind Franklin
Source: © Ann Ronan Picture Library—World History Archive
Dr. Rosalind Franklin, PhD
Chemist

Rosalind Franklin was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who helped discover the molecular structure of DNA at King’s College.
Source: Asia Research News
Roseli Ocampo-Friedman
Biologist

Roseli Ocampo-Friedmann was a botanist and microbiologist who mainly specialized in the study of microbiology/extremophiles. Her groundbreaking work was even cited in "terraforming" Mars. Friedmann earned her degree in botany from the University of The Philippines in 1958.
Dr. Maria Goeppert Mayer
Source: The Granger Collection, New York
Dr. Maria Goeppert Mayer, PhD
Physicist

German physicist Dr. Maria Goeppert Mayer made groundbreaking discoveries about nuclear structure that led her to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.
Jane Goodall
Photo: Stuart Clarke/the Jane Goodall Institute
Jane Goodall
Primatologist

Jane Goodall is an anthropologist and primatologist. She is an expert on chimpanzees, and has worked to raise awareness on environmental conservation.
Public Domain
Tuyet Hanh
Engineer

Tuyet-Hanh is a mechanical engineer and motivational speaker for women involved in STEM. Graduating in 1991 with an mechanical engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, Hanh decided to enroll in the Stevens’ Cooperative Education Program to get a headstart in her career.
Mary Elliott Hill
Source: Wikipedia
Mary Elliott Hill
Chemist

Mary Elliott Hill was an organic and analytical chemist who helped develop ketene synthesis, a process that aids in the development of plastics.
Dr. Jane Hinton
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Jane Hinton, PhD
Veterinarian

Dr. Jane Hinton was a veterinarian who researched bacterial resistance. She was one of the first African-American veterinarians to establish her own practice in Massachusetts.
Dorothy Hodgkin
Source: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Dr. Dorothy Hodgkin, PhD
Biochemist

Dr. Dorothy Hodgkin was an English chemist who researched the molecular structure of penicillin and Vitamin B, earning her the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Mary Jackson
Aeronautical Engineer

Mary Jackson became NASA's first African American female engineer in 1958.
Dr. Shirley Jackson
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Shirley Jackson, PhD
Physicist

Dr. Shirley Jackson is a theoretical physicist and the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). In 2016, she was awarded the National Medal of Science for her work in physics and science-rooted public policy.
Mae Jemison
Source: NASA
Dr. Mae C. Jemison, PhD
Physician

Dr. Jemison is a doctor and astronaut who was the first African American woman to travel into outer space. Currently, she is leading the 100 Year Starship Project.
Dr. Anna Johnson Julian
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Anna Johnson Julian, PhD
Sociologist

Dr. Anna Johnson Julian was the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Katherine Johnson
Source: NASA
Katherine Johnson
Mathematician

Katherine Johnson was a NASA mathematician who helped calculate the flight path for NASA’s first manned space mission in 1962. Her life and career was depicted in the movie "Hidden Figures."
Dr. Irène Joliot-Curie
Source: Edgar Fahs Smith Collection, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Irène Joliot-Curie, PhD
Chemist

Dr. Irène Joliot-Curie was a French physicist and chemist. In 1935, she and her husband shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on the synthesis of new radioactive elements.
Dr. Angie Turner King
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Angie Turner King, PhD
Chemist

Angie King was an African American chemist, mathematician, and educator. After her retirement, she received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.
Hedy Lamarr
Source: Wikipedia
Hedy Lamarr
Inventor

Hedy Lamarr was an actress and inventor known as the “mother of Wi-Fi.” The technology she helped develop is the basis for GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth technology today.
Dorothy Lavina
Dorothy Lavinia Brown
Surgeon

Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown was the first African American female surgeon in the South. Throughout her lifetime, she continued to push limits when she became the first African American woman to serve in the Tennessee state legislature.
Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence, PhD
Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst

Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence became the first African-American woman to practice psychoanalysis in the United States. She remained devoted to assisting underprivileged children throughout her career.
Public Domain
Henrietta Leavitt
Astronomer

Henrietta Leavitt was an astronomer that discovered the properties about a certain type of star, the Cepheid variable star. She found that the Cepheid variable star's pulse rate can reveal a star's brightness depending on how rapid the pulse is.
Floy Agnes Lee
Biologist

Floy Agnes Lee was a technician who worked on the Manhattan Project, which was the American-led effort to build nuclear weapons during World War II.
Inge Lehmann
Photo: University of Copenhagen
Inge Lehmann
Seismologist and Geophysicist

Inge Lehmann was a seismologist that discovered that the Earth’s inner core is solid surrounded by a molten outer core. In 1971, she was honored with the William Bowie Medal — the highest distinction of the American Geophysical Union.
Dr. Ruth Smith Lloyd
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Ruth Smith Lloyd, PhD
Anatomist

Dr. Ruth Lloyd was the first African American woman to acquire her doctorate degree in Anatomy, and an active member of the American Association of Anatomists.
Ada Lovelace
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Ada Lovelace
Mathematician

Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician, wrote the first algorithm for a machine in the 1800s and is considered the first computer programmer.
Dr. Barbara McClintock
© American Philosophical Society Library—Barbara McClintock Papers/National Library of Medicine
Dr. Barbara McClintock, PhD
Cytogeneticist

Dr. Barbara McClintock was a pioneer in the field of cytogenetics, the study of chromosomes, and in 1983, she won a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Susan McKinney-Steward
Dr. Susan McKinney-Steward, PhD
Physician

Dr. Susan McKinney-Steward was the third black woman physician in the United States and the first in New York.
Credit: Smithsonian Institution, US
Dr. Maud Menten, PhD
Biochemist

Dr. Maud Menten, a biochemist, is most known for her work in the field of enzyme kinetics and advancing the field of histochemistry.
Ynés Mexía
Photo credit: The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley
Ynés Mexía
Botanist

Ynés Mexía was a botanist and conservationist that advocated to protect the redwood forests of California. She collected over 145,000 specimens over her 13-year career.
Dr. Lillie Rosa Minoka-Hill
Source: Changing the Face of Medicine
Dr. Lillie Rosa Minoka-Hill, PhD
Physician

Dr. Lillie Rosa Minoka-Hill was the second Indigenous woman in the United States to hold an M.D. degree. She treated people from the local Oneida reservation near home free of charge.
Source: Stanford News Service
Maryam Mirzakhani
Mathematician

Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani was a mathematics professor at Stanford University and the only woman to ever receive the Fields Medal, the highest honor in mathematics.
Maria Mitchell
Photo credit: Vassar College
Maria Mitchell
Astronomer

Astronomer Maria Mitchell was the first American to discover a comet, specifically C/1847 T1 – originally known as “Miss Mitchell’s Comet.”
ruth ella moore
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Ruth Ella Moore, PhD
Microbiologist

Dr. Ruth Ella Moore was known as the first African American woman in the United States who acquired a PhD in natural sciences.
Public Domain
Margaretta Hare Morris
Entomologist

Morris is an entomologist known for her groundbreaking work specifically involving the study of the Hessian fly as well as her studies involving cotton moths and bed bugs. This discovery later proved crucial to finding a method to prevent invasive species from destroying crops as well as pesticides research.
Sameera Moussa
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Sameera Moussa, PhD
Nuclear scientist

Dr. Sameera Moussa was the first Egyptian nuclear scientist. She was a strong supporter of peace, so she organized the Atomic Energy for Peace Conference.
Public Domain
Emmy Noether
Mathematician

Emmy Noether was a mathematician born on March 23rd, 1882, in Erlangen, Germany. After graduating high school, she attended the University of Erlangen where her father was a mathematics professor.
Source: Centers of Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Antonia Novello, PhD
Physician

Dr. Antonia Novello was the first woman and the first person of Hispanic origin to become the Surgeon General of the United States.
Ellen Ochoa
Source: NASA
Dr. Ellen Ochoa, PhD
Electrical Engineer

Dr. Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman to go to space and serve as director of the Johnson Space Center.
Dr. Joan Murrell Owens
Photo: Public Domain
Dr. Joan Murrell Owens, PhD
Marine Biologist

Dr. Joan Murrell Owens was a marine biologist who classified the genus of Rhombopsammia, a type of button corals and three new species.
Source: Public Domain
Edna Lee Paisano
Statistician

Edna Lee Paisano was a statistician that is credited with improving the accuracy of the 1990 Census by increasing the number of Native Americans by 38%.
Source: Public Domain
Bertha Parker
Archaeologist

As the first Indigenous archaeologist, Bertha Parker discovered humans lived in a cave 10,000 years ago -- the earliest evidence of humans in America at the time.
Carolyn Parker
Photo: Public Domain
Carolyn Parker
Physicist

Carolyn Parker was the first African American to earn a postgraduate degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Cecilia Payne
Source: Smithsonian Institution
Dr. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, PhD
Astronomer

Dr. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was an astronomer credited with discovering the chemical composition of stars.
Audrey Penn
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Audrey Shields Penn, PhD
Neurologist

Dr. Audrey Shields Penn is the first African-American woman to become acting director of a branch of the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Susan La Flesche Picotte
Source: Nebraska Commission of Indian Affairs
Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, PhD
Physician

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Indigenous woman to become a physician and worked tirelessly to increase healthcare access for the Omaha tribe.
Jessie Isabelle Price
Photo: Public Domain
Dr. Jessie Isabelle Price, PhD
Microbiologist

Dr. Jessie Isabelle Price was a pioneering veterinary microbiologist known for creating methods to control microbial diseases in waterfowl.
Inez Beverly Prosser
Photo: Public Domain
Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser, PhD
Psychologist

Dr. Inez Beverly Prosser was the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in psychology and assisted black students with attaining loans and funds for college.
Mary Logan Reddick
Source: Harvard University Library
Dr. Mary Logan Reddick, PhD
Biologist

Dr. Mary Logan Reddick contributed to the scientific understanding of embryonic development through her studies on chicken embryos.
Dr. Helen Rodriguez Trias
Source: National Library of Medicine
Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías, PhD
Physician

Dr. Helen Rodríguez Trías was the first Latina director of the American Public Health Association and dedicated her career to advocating for women's health.
Mary G. Ross
Credit: SWE Photograph Collection, Walter P. Reuther Library
Mary G. Ross
Aerospace Engineer

Mary G. Ross, an aerospace engineer and member of the Cherokee Nation, was the first Native American female engineer in Lockheed Martin.
Public Domain
Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal
Biologist

Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal was known for her groundbreaking research of HIV and the causes of AIDS during her career as a molecular biologist. During her studies, Staal gained interest in “retroviruses” and their ability to be potential pathogens in human diseases.
Marguerite Thomas Williams
Source: University of the Disctrict of Columbia
Dr. Marguerite Thomas Williams, PhD
Geologist

Dr. Marguerite Thomas Williams was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in geology. She taught at Miner Teachers College and Howard University.
Public Domain
Dr. Kazue Togasaki
Physician

Dr. Kazue Togasaki was one of the first Japanese American women to become a doctor in the United States and was known for her bravery as she took care of hundreds in Japanese internment camps during World War II.
Diana Trujillo
Source: Public Domain
Diana Trujillo
Aerospace Engineer

Diana Trujillo is an aerospace engineer and Flight Director at NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory. She currently leads the Robotic Arm System team for the Mars Perseverance mission.
Tu YouYou
© Nobel Media. Photo: A. Mahmoud
Tu Youyou
Pharmacologist

Tu Youyou is the first Chinese woman to win a Nobel Prize for her discovery of artemisinin, a drug used to treat malaria.
Dr. Glady's West
Dr. Gladys West, PhD
Mathematician

Dr. Gladys West is a mathematician who helped develop the Global Positioning System (GPS).
Jane Cook Wright
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Jane Cook Wright, PhD
Surgeon and Cancer Researcher

Dr. Wright was a surgeon and cancer researcher who became the first African American woman to become an associate dean of a medical institution.
Credit: Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron (Desy), Hamburg, courtesy of AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection
Dr. Sau Lan Wu, PhD
Physicist

Dr. Sau Lan Wu is a particle physicist who helped confirm the existence of three fundamental particles, the building blocks of protons, the J/psi, gluon, and Higgs boson.
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu
Source: Smithsonian Institution
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu, PhD
Physicist

Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu was an experimental physicist known for her contributions to the Manhattan Project and discovering how to separate uranium isotopes.
Yukiko Yamashita American biologist
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Yukiko Yamashita
Biologist

Yukiko Yamashita is a biologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who dedicates her research into studying asymmetrical cell division.
Josephine Silone Yates
Source: Library Of Congress
Josephine Silone Yates
Educator

Josephine Silone Yates was a science educator who was active in women’s and civil rights organizations, traveling across the country to deliver speeches.
Public Domain
Dr. Tsai-Fan Yu
Physician

Tsai-Fan Yu, MD, was a physician who researched gout terminology and treatment. Dr. Yu was known for discovering a drug called probenecid, which could remove excess uric acid by triggering its excretion through the urine.

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