Special RFS Briefing - Rosalind Franklin's Birthday, July 25th 2020

I am pleased to include this special issue of RFS Briefings commemorating Rosalind Franklin’s 100th Birthday!

The Rosalind Franklin Society was founded in 2008 to honor the achievements of Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), a British x-ray crystallographer whose extraordinary work, though largely overlooked and under-appreciated at the time, was crucial to the discovery of DNA’s structure by James Watson and Francis Crick.            

When the discovery was recognized by the Nobel Committee in 1962, the winners of the Nobel Prize – Watson and Crick – did not include Franklin, who had died in 1958 at the age of 37. Only recently has Franklin received some of the recognition that she deserves for her essential contribution to one of the biggest discoveries of the past century.           

The powerful symbolism of her remarkable story drives the Society’s agenda to recognize and celebrate the contributions of outstanding women in the life sciences and affiliated disciplines, promote broadened opportunities for women in the sciences, and through its many activities motivate new generations of women to this calling.

See below for more news about women in science

Please continue to share important news and opportunities with us so that we may share it with you, and others who are committed to supporting the careers of exceptional women in science. 
With Regards,

Karla Signature
Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society


Rosalind Elsie Franklin
July 25, 1920 – April 16, 1958

Rosalind Franklin the Scientist
To mark the centenary of the birth of Rosalind Franklin on July 25, 2020, Kevin Davies, PhD, reflects on her fundamental role in unraveling the structure of the double helix in 1953, and the historical context which devalued her work as a woman in science. This article appears in Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News: GEN, the flagship publication of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., launched in 1980. Mary Ann Liebert is the founder and executive vice president of the Rosalind Franklin Society. Read more.

Rosalind Franklin: Celebrating an Inspirational Legacy
At the center of Rosalind Franklin’s tombstone in London’s Willesden Jewish Cemetery is the word “scientist,’” followed by the inscription, “’Her research and discoveries on viruses remain of lasting benefit to mankind.’” Though she is primarily remembered as the “’wronged heroine of DNA,’” an editorial in Nature argues that her singular work on DNA is only a limited representation of her record and legacy. Her work, which spans biology, chemistry, and physics, was directed to research that could be used to better society. For example, she contributed to the science of coal and carbon, and was an expert in the study of viruses that cause plant and animal diseases. Because of Franklin, her collaborators, and successors, researchers today are able to use tools such as DNA sequencing and X-ray crystallography to study viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Read more.

Rosalind Franklin Medal
The Genome Writers Guild (GWG) and Rosalind Franklin Society have joined forces to honor early career scientists by instituting the Rosalind Franklin Medal. This inaugural award, marking Rosalind Franklin’s 100th birthday on July 25, will be presented at the 2020 Genome Writers Guild Conference, a free, live, virtual event on July 23-25. Mary Ann Liebert, founder and executive vice president of the Rosalind Franklin Society, will deliver a keynote talk announcing this year’s winner, Alexis C. Komer, PhD. As the awardee, Dr. Komer is an invited speaker. She is an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSD since 2017, where she has rapidly established a research program at the leading edge of genome editing, DNA repair, and functional genomics. As a mentor and advocate for women in science, she has also orchestrated an outreach program with the San Diego Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering (BEWiSE) community, and has developed a genome editing outreach laboratory activity at San Diego local High Schools. Read more.

Rosalind Franklin Commemorative Coin
The Royal Mint has released a commemorative 50p coin in honor of Rosalind Franklin’s 100th birthday. Using printing techniques of her era, it features her name alongside a depiction of Photograph 51, the groundbreaking X-ray diffraction image of DNA. The coin acknowledges Franklin’s “immense contribution to advancing humanity’s cause.” The new coin is the second in the Royal Mint’s innovation in science series, with the first dedicated to the pioneering work of Stephen Hawkings. Read more.