Saturday, August 20, 2011

Showcase: aslaspergirl's Rosalind Elsie Franklin

Rosalind Elsie Franklin


"You look at science (or at least talk of it) as some sort of demoralising invention of man, something apart from real life, and which must be cautiously guarded and kept separate from everyday existence. But science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated. Science, for me, gives a partial explanation for life. In so far as it goes, it is based on fact, experience and experiment." --- Franklin

25 July 1920 – 16 April 1958

The more I read about her, the more fire ignited within me to bring recognition to Rosalind Franklin's significant contribution to the helical structure of DNA. Unfortunately, she passed away before the Noble Prize could be awarded to her. James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine in 1962, four years after Franklin died. Her work on the DNA structure led to greater understanding of how genetic information is passed on from parents to children.

I struggled to find a video of Rosalind, so decided to include this instead.

Asperger's Syndrome
When Rosalind was 15 years old, she had chosen science as her vocation and wanted to attend college. Her father strongly opposed it as he wanted her to get into social work. He was concerned that she was choosing a career over marriage and family life. She and her father debated about this for years before he finally accepted that she wanted to be a scientist.

Rosalind had a habit of intensely looking people in the eye while being concise, impatient and directly confrontational. James Watson stated that Rosalind found it very hard to make new acquaintances and was very bad at absorbing social cues. Small talk was awkward for her and she did not willing accept criticism. She did not know how to deal with other people and found it difficult to ask for help. Her relationships with colleagues were strained due to her difficulty in collaborating. She was extremely protective of her research on DNA and refused to share ideas.

In the summer of 1956, Rosalind first began to suspect a health problem. An operation in September of the same year revealed two tumours in her abdomen. She chose not to stay with her parents due to her mother's uncontrollable grief and crying upsetting her too much. Her scientific work continued while she underwent cancer treatment. At the age of 37, Rosalind passed away and J. D. Bernal's words about her death were "Her early death is a great loss to science."

Posted in: Famous people with Asperger's

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