The Women Who Helped Shape STEM – Trailblazers in the world of science and beyond

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The Women Who Helped Shape STEM – Trailblazers in the world of science and beyond
Ian Davies

The Women Who Helped Shape STEM – Trailblazers in the world of science and beyond

Inspirational women have been at the heart of STEM, shaping the world of science and beyond, for centuries. Here we celebrate just a few of them, along with their game-changing innovations.

In the ever-changing, ever-growing world of science, throughout the course of history, many iconic women have trailblazed their way through boundaries to make groundbreaking discoveries and advancements that have helped shape the way we live today, and will into the future.

In this blog we put the spotlight on some of the leading ladies in science, celebrating their remarkable contributions and achievements, and the pivotal role they have had in various scientific fields and beyond.

Highlighting Top Women Innovators in Science

Rosalind Franklin: Through her work on X-ray diffraction, Franklin had a vital role in understand DNA – a fundamental part of modern genetics. Watson and Crick formulated the DNA double helix model, using insights gained via Franklin’s famous “Photo 51”, and although she didn’t receive the Nobel Prize she arguable deserved, contributions by Franklin are widely recognised for their importance in science.

Jane Goodall: The work of Goodall includes some truly groundbreaking, world-changing studies. Her study of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania, is arguably one of the most important ever conducted, having revolutionised our understanding of primate behaviour and the close relationship between humans and animals. Goodall’s observations of chimpanzees using tools challenged the belief that only humans made tools, and suggested that the human-animal kingdom relationship was closer than previously thought.

Ada Yonath: Yonath made a profound impact on modern medicine through her research of ribosome structure. Mapping ribosome structure helped discover insights for development of new antibiotics, shape the future of pharmaceutical chemistry, and fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Tu Youyou: As impacts go, it doesn’t get much bigger or more important than helping to save millions of lives worldwide. But that’s what YouYou’s innovative approach of combining traditional Chinese medicine with modern techniques, to extract the substance from sweet wormwood revolutionized the treatment of malaria, achieved. Her work led to a better understanding of how traditional knowledge and modern science can combine to create life-saving medicines.

Carol Greider: Greider and her work on telomeres was truly pioneering, leading to discovery of the enzyme telomerase which reshaped our understanding of cellular aging and cancer. Greider’s research opened avenues into the understanding of age-related diseases and cancer therapy and highlighted the impact and importance of fundamental biological research. It also, and rightly-so, won Greider a Nobel Prize.

Katalin Karikó, PhD: Many modern medicines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, have been developed thanks to Karikó's groundbreaking research on messenger RNA (mRNA), which laid the foundation for mRNA-based therapies. Her work in modifying mRNA to reduce its inflammatory response is not only innovative, but revolutionary too, leading to development of new vaccines and exciting opportunities to discover treatments for various diseases.

Kizzmekia Corbett: Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett was pivotal in helping to contain, control and combat COVID-19. Her expertise in immunology contributed to a rapid and effective vaccine response to the pandemic and helped set an example for way in which to research and tackle global health emergencies for generations to come. Her work not only combated a global crisis but also marked a significant milestone in vaccine development.

Helping change the world then, now and forever

These remarkable women have pushed the envelope of scientific developments for generations, paving the way for the future of female scientists to shape the world and the way we live for years, decades and centuries to come. Beyond the impact their work has made on medicine, scientific research and much more, they have given a voice to women in STEM, highlighted and represented the power of females in the industry, and inspired a new era of scientific exploration and innovation.

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