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.

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
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
Physician

Dr. Caroline Still Anderson was a physician dedicated to education and improving the social and political conditions for other African-Americans.
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
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
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.
Beth Brown
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Beth Brown
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
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
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
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
Psychologist

Dr. Gloria Twine Chisum is an experimental psychologist known for creating protective eyewear for pilots suitable for extreme conditions.
Dr. France Cordova
Photo: NSF/Stephen Voss
Dr. France Cordova
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
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.
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
Physician

Dr. Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee was a physician who established the Southeast Neighborhood House to give black communities greater access to healthcare.
Dr. Rosalind Franklin
Source: © Ann Ronan Picture Library—World History Archive
Dr. Rosalind Franklin
Chemist

Rosalind Franklin was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who helped discover the molecular structure of DNA at King’s College.
Dr. Maria Goeppert Mayer
Source: The Granger Collection, New York
Dr. Maria Goeppert Mayer
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.
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
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
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.
Dr. Shirley Jackson
Source: Public Domain
Dr. Shirley Jackson
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
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.
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. Anna Johnson Julian
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Anna Johnson Julian
Sociologist

Dr. Anna Johnson Julian was the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.
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
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
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.
Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Margaret Morgan Lawrence
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.
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
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
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.
Credit: Smithsonian Institution, US
Dr. Maud Menten
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
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
Microbiologist

Dr. Ruth Ella Moore was known as the first African American woman in the United States who acquired a PhD in natural sciences.
Sameera Moussa
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Sameera Moussa
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.
Dr. Joan Murrell Owens
Photo: Public Domain
Dr. Joan Murrell Owens
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.
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
Astronomer

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

Dr. Mary Logan Reddick contributed to the scientific understanding of embryonic development through her studies on chicken embryos.
Marguerite Thomas Williams
Source: University of the Disctrict of Columbia
Dr. Marguerite Thomas Williams
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.
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.
Jane Cook Wright
Source: Wikipedia
Dr. Jane Cook Wright
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.
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu
Source: Smithsonian Institution
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu
Physicist

Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu was an experimental physicist known for her contributions to the Manhattan Project and discovering how to separate uranium isotopes.
Credit: Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron (Desy), Hamburg, courtesy of AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection
Dr. Sau Lan Wu
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.
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.

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