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Science Heroine Names: Inspiration from scientific barrier breakers

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To commemorate this week’s International Women’s Day (we’re only a day late), we thought that this time we’d look not at creative artists or political figures, but at accomplished female scientists and mathematicians.  These range in time from the 4th century BC to the recent past, all of them women who had to overcome the cultural biases against females in their fields–all inspirational namesakes.  Brainy names for brainy babies!

And in the usual nameberry fashion, we’re not aiming to be comprehensive, but focusing as much on noteworthy names as on notable achievements.  So apologies to the many Marys, andMaries who don’t appear below..

ADA Lovelace, aka AUGUSTA Ada Byron – daughter of the poet, a mathematician who contributed to research that led to the modern computer.

ALESSANDRA Giliani –14th century Italian anatomist, reputedly the first person to use the injection of colored fluids to trace blood vessels.

AMALIE Emmy Noether – (known as EMMY) – did work relating to the general theory of relativity and ring theory.

ARTEMISIA, Queen of Caria (c. 300 BC), a botanist and medical researcher; the plant genis Artemisia is named for her.

CECILIA Payne-Gaposchkin– as a graduate student in 1925, she established one of the fundamental theories of astrophysics, that stars were made up of hydrogen and helium.

DOROTHEA Klumpke was an internationally known astronomer who studied meteorites and broke several gender barriers.

ELENA LUCREZIA Cornaro Piscopia –a 17th century Venetian mathematician, the first woman to earn a PhD.

ELSA Beata Bunge – Well known early Swedish botanist who wrote on the nature of vine grapes.

ÉMILIE du Châtenet – Translated Newton’s Principia into French and deduced the conservation of energy.

GERTY Theresa Cori (shown) was awarded a 1947 Nobel Laureate for her medical research, which she shared with her husband.

HAZEL K. Stiebling was one of three nutritionists to develop the Recommended Dietary Allowance in 1941.

HILDEGARD of Bingen (1098-1179) –the earliest woman scientist whose writings have survived.

HYPATIA of Alexandria (370-415) – A Roman woman who, unlike most of her contemporaries, was allowed to study mathematics, astronomy and natural science; was appointed head of the University of Alexandria, and invented several scientific instruments including a hydrometer and an instrument for distilling water.

JACOBINA Félice—a 14th century Italian physician.

JEWEL Plumber Cobb– a biologist who studied the effects of chemotherapy.

MARIA Mayer, known for her work on the shell structure of the atom; Maria Winkelmann was an early German astronomer; Maria Mitchell discovered a comet in 1847.

MILEVA Maric –one of the first women in Europe to study math and physics; she married fellow student Albert Einstein.

MYRA Adele Logan – first woman to perform surgery on a human heart.

NETTIE Stevens – early American geneticist, among the first to describe the chromosomal basis of sex.

ROSALIND Franklin – was a crystallographer who played an underappreciated role in discovering the structure of DNA.

RUZENA Bajcsy—helped create robots that could respond to their environment.

SOFIA Kovalevskaya – 19th century Russian scientist whose research examined how Saturn’s rings rotate.

SULAMITH Low Goldhaber researched high-energy particles in the 1950s.

SOPHIE Germain – French mathematician and elasticity and number theorist.

VIRGINIA Apgar – pioneer in anesthesiology among other achievements.!

WINIFRED Goldring – the first woman president of the Paleontological Society.

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