1. and 2. Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna
Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on developing the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tools. This technology has limitless applications and researchers hope to use it to alter human genes to eliminate diseases, create hardier plants, and so much more. No previous science Nobel prize has been given to two women only!
3. Mary Frances Lyon (1925-2014)
Mary Frances Lyon was an English geneticist best known for her discovery of X-chromosome inactivation. Her findings led to our understanding of the genetic control mechanisms of the X chromosome and help explain why female carriers of X-linked genetic conditions can display mild symptoms.
4. Elizabeth Blackburn (1948- )
Elizabeth Blackburn is an Australian-American biologist best known for her co-discovery of the enzyme telomerase, which replenishes the telomere. The ends of chromosomes are protected by a cap, or telomere. Blackburn was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for her groundbreaking work.
5. Frances H. Arnold (1956- )
Frances Arnold is an American chemical engineer awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018 for her pioneer work using directed evolution to design new enzymes. There are countless applications for this work, including pharmaceuticals and even renewable fuels.
6. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (1942- )
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is a German developmental biologist and receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995 for her work with Eric Wieschaus on the genetic control of embryonic development. Their findings contributed greatly to our understanding of cell fate during development, the regulation of transcription, and more. She is also the only woman from Germany to receive a Nobel Prize in the sciences!
7. Nettie Stevens
Nettie Stevens (1861-1912, American) discovered that a fetus’s sex is determined by chromosomes contributed by the parents during conception. Previously, it was believed that environmental factors during conception determined sex.
8. Charlotte Auerbach
Charlotte Auerbach (1899-1994, German) has been called the “mother of mutagenesis” due to her discovery of genetic mutations caused by mustard gas. It only took her two months to discover these mutations in the X chromosomes of male flies exposed to the gas. She received a Keith Prize in 1948.
9. Barbara McClintock
Barbara McClintock (1902-1992, American) is known for her groundbreaking discovery of mobile genetic elements at the young age of 29, one of the greatest experiments of modern biology. For this work, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1983.
10. Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch
Salome Gluecksohn-Waelsch (1907-2007, German) co-founded the field of developmental genetics. She used mouse embryo to study the effects of naturally occurring genetic mutations and the t-complex, a group of genes that direct the development of mouse tails. She won the National Medal of Science in 1993 for her work in development genetics. Salome was 85 at the time and still hard at work.
11. Rosalind Franklin
Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958, British) contributed to discovering the structure of DNA. She found that DNA takes two forms: “A” and “B.” It was a photo of form “B,” photo 51, that provided Watson and Crick the information that DNA was a double helix structure. Franklin also made major contributions on the filtration properties of types of coal during World War II. Franklin hypothesized that Tobacco Mosaic Virus was a hollow tube made of proteins that contained a single strand of RNA that spiraled inside the length of the tube like a thread spiraling inside a donut hole. After her early death at 38 from ovarian cancer, this hypothesis was found correct.
12. Esther Lederberg
Esther Lederberg (1922-2006, American) provided the foundation for future research in genetic inheritance in bacteria, gene regulation, and genetic recombination. She co-invented a simple method, replica plating, to reproduce bacterial colonies in masses while maintaining the original geometry of the colonies.