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Nobel Women of Science

Alessia Kirkland

Next month, the Nobel Prizes for 2021 will be announced. Here we look at women who have received the Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry and physiology or medicine. For a closer look at recent advances in optics based on the 2020 Chemistry Nobel winners’ research, see this month’s cover story.

Nobel Prize in Physics

Marie Curie, recipient of the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to win in two scientific fields. [Hulton Archive/Getty Images]

 

1903 Nobel Prize in Physics

Marie Curie (née Skłodowska)

In recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel

1903 Prize shares: Half awarded jointly to Marie Curie (1/4) and husband Pierre Curie (1/4), the other half awarded to​ Antoine Henri Becquerel (1/2)
[Read more about the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics]

Life: Born in 1867 in Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland), Marie Curie (née Skłodowska) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist.
[Read more about Marie Curie]

 

Maria Goeppert-Mayer, recipient of the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics. [U.S. Department of Energy]

 

1963 Nobel Prize in Physics

Maria Goeppert-Mayer

For their discoveries concerning nuclear shell structure

1963 Prize shares: Half awarded jointly to Maria Goeppert-Mayer (1/4) and J. Hans D. Jensen (1/4), the other half awarded to​ Eugene Paul Wigner (1/2)
[Read more about the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physics]

Life: Born in 1906 in Kattowitz, Germany (now Katowice, Poland), Maria Goeppert-Mayer was a German-born American theoretical physicist.
[Read more about Maria Goeppert-Mayer]

 

Donna Strickland, recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics, aligning an optical fiber in her lab in Rochester in 1985. Strickland is also an OSA Fellow and the 2013 OSA President. [University of Rochester]

 

2018 Nobel Prize in Physics

Donna Strickland

For groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics
For their method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses

2018 Prize shares: Half awarded jointly to Donna Strickland (1/4) and Gérard Mourou (1/4), the other half awarded to​ Arthur Ashkin (1/2)
[Read more about the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics]

Life: Born in 1959, Guelph, Canada, Donna Strickland is a Canadian optical physicist.
[Read more about Donna Strickland]

 

Andrea Ghez, recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics. [Christopher Dibble]

 

2020 Nobel Prize in Physics

Andrea Ghez

For the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy

2020 Prize shares: Half awarded jointly to Andrea Ghez (1/4) and Reinhard Genzel (1/4), the other half awarded to​ Roger Penrose (1/2)
[Read more about the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics]

Life: Born in 1965, New York, NY, USA, Andrea Ghez is an American astrophysicist.
[Read more about Andrea Ghez]


 

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Marie Curie, recipient of the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person to win in two scientific fields. [Hulton Archive/Getty Images]

 

1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Marie Curie (née Skłodowska)

In recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element

Prize shares: Awarded to Marie Curie (1/1)
[Read more about the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry]

Life: Born in 1867 in Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland), Marie Curie (née Skłodowska) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist.
[Read more about Marie Curie]

 

Irène Joliot-Curie, recipient of the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. [Hulton Archive/Stringer]

 

1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Irène Joliot-Curie

In recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements

1935 Prize shares: Awarded jointly to Irène Joliot-Curie (1/2) and Frédéric Joliot (1/2)
[Read more aabout the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry]

Life: Born in 1897, Paris, France, Irène Joliot-Curie was a French chemist, physicist and politician.
[Read more about Irène Joliot-Curie]

 

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, recipient of the 1964 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. [Keystone/Getty Images]

 

1964 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin

For her determinations by X-ray techniques of the structures of important biochemical substances

1964 Prize shares: Awarded to Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1/1)
[Read more about the 1964 Nobel Prize in Chemistry]

Life: Born in 1910, Cairo, Egypt, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was a British chemist.
[Read more about Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin]

 

Ada E. Yonath, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. [Weizmann Institute of Science/CC BY 3.0]

 

2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Ada E. Yonath

For studies of the structure and function of the ribosome

2009 Prize shares: Awarded jointly to Ada E. Yonath (1/3), Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (1/3) and Thomas A. Steitz (1/3)
[Read more about the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry]

Life: Born in 1939, Jerusalem, British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel), Ada E. Yonath is an Israeli crystallographer.
[Read more about Ada E. Yonath]

 

Frances H. Arnold, recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. [Caltech]

 

2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Frances H. Arnold

For the directed evolution of enzymes

2018 Prize shares: Half awarded to Frances H. Arnold (1/2), and half jointly to George P. Smith (1/4) and Sir Gregory P. Winter (1/4)
[Read more about the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry]

Life: 1956, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, Frances Hamilton Arnold is an American chemical engineer.
[Read more about Frances H. Arnold]

 

Jennifer A. Doudna (left) and Emmanuelle Charpentier, recipients of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. [picture alliance/Getty Images]

 

2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Emmanuelle and Jennifer

For the development of a method for genome editing

2020 Prize shares: Awarded jointly to Emmanuelle Charpentier (1/2) and Jennifer A. Doudna (1/2)
[Read more about the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry]

Life: Born in 1968, Juvisy-sur-Orge, France, Emmanuelle Marie Charpentier is a French microbiologist, geneticist and biochemist.
[Read more about Emmanuelle Charpentier]

Born in 1964, Washington, DC, USA, Jennifer Anne Doudna is an American biochemist.
[Read more about Jennifer A. Doudna]


 

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Gerty Cori, recipient of the 1947 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [Smithsonian Institution Archives]

 

1947 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Gerty Theresa Cori (née Radnitz)
For their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen

1947 Prize shares: Half awarded jointly to Gerty Cori (1/4) and Carl Ferdinand Cori (1/4), the other half awarded to​ Bernardo Alberto Houssay (1/2)
[Read more about the 1947 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1896, Prague, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic), Gerty Theresa Cori (née Radnitz) was an Austro-Hungarian-American biochemist.
[Read more about Gerty Cori]

 

Rosalyn Yalow, recipient of the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs]

 

1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Rosalyn Yalow

For the development of radioimmunoassays of peptide hormones

1977 Prize shares: Half awarded to Rosalyn Yalow (1/2), the other half awarded jointly to Roger Guillemin (1/4) and Andrew V. Schally (1/4)
[Read more about the 1977 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1921, New York, NY, USA, Rosalyn Sussman Yalow was an American medical physicist.
[Read more about Rosalyn Yalow]

 

Barbara McClintock, recipient of the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [Smithsonian Archives]

 

1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Barbara McClintock

For her discovery of mobile genetic elements

1983 Prize shares: Awarded to Barbara McClintock (1/1)
[Read more about the 1983 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1902, Hartford, CT, USA, Barbara McClintock was an American cytogeneticist.
[Read more about Barbara McClintock]

 

Rita Levi-Montalcini, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [Washington University in St. Louis]

 

1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Rita Levi-Montalcini

For their discoveries of growth factors

1986 Prize shares: Awarded jointly to Rita Levi-Montalcini (1/2) and Stanley Cohen (1/2)
[Read more about the 1986 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1909, Turin, Italy, Rita Levi-Montalcini was an Italian neurobiologist.
[Read more about Rita Levi-Montalcini]

 

Gertrude B. Elion, recipient of the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [Jewish Women’s Archive]

 

1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Gertrude B. Elion

For their discoveries of important principles for drug treatment

1988 Prize shares: Awarded jointly to Gertrude B. Elion (1/3), Sir James W. Black (1/3) and George H. Hitchings (1/3)
[Read more about the 1988 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1918, New York, NY, USA, Gertrude Elion was an American biochemist and pharmacologist.
[Read more about Gertrude B. Elion]

 

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [The Max Planck Institute]

 

1995 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard

For their discoveries concerning the genetic control of early embryonic development

1995 Prize shares: Awarded jointly to Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (1/3), Edward B. Lewis (1/3) and Eric F. Wieschaus (1/3)
[Read more about the 1995 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1942, Magdeburg, Germany, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is a German developmental biologist.
[Read more about Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard]

 

Linda B. Buck, recipient of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [© Dan Lamont/epa/Corbis]

 
2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Linda B. Buck

For their discoveries of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system

2004 Prize shares: Awarded jointly to Linda B. Buck (1/2) and Richard Axel (1/2)
[Read more about the 2004 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1947, Seattle, WA, USA, Linda B. Buck is an American biologist.
[Read more about Linda B. Buck]

 

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [© Institut Pasteur]

 
2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi

For their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus

2008 Prize shares: Half awarded jointly to Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (1/4) and Luc Montagnier (1/4), the other half awarded to Harald zur Hausen (1/2)
[Read more about the 2008 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1947, Paris, France, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is a French virologist.
[Read more about Françoise Barré-Sinoussi]

 

Carol W. Greider (left) and Elizabeth H. Blackburn, recipients of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [American Academy of Achievement]

 
2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Carol W. Greider

For the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase

2009 Prize shares: Awarded jointly to Elizabeth H. Blackburn (1/3), Carol W. Greider (1/3) and Jack W. Szostak (1/3)
[Read more about the 2009 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1948, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, Elizabeth Helen Blackburn is an Australian-American molecular biologist.
[Read more about Elizabeth H. Blackburn]

Life: Born in 1961, San Diego, CA, USA, Carolyn Widney Greider is an American molecular biologist.
[Read more about Carol W. Greider]

 

May-Britt Moser, recipient of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [Gaute Gjøl Dahle]

 
2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

May-Britt Moser

For their discoveries of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain

2014 Prize shares: Half awarded jointly to May-Britt Moser (1/4) and Edvard I. Moser (1/4), the other half awarded to​ John O’Keefe (1/2)
[Read more about the 2014 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1963, Fosnavåg, Norway, May-Britt Moser is a Norwegian psychologist and neuroscientist.
[Read more about May-Britt Moser]

 

Tu Youyou, recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. [From nobelprize.org, credit unknown]

 
2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Tu Youyou

For her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria

2015 Prize shares: Half awarded to Tu Youyou (1/2), the other half awarded​ jointly to William C. Campbell (1/2) and Satoshi Ōmura (1/2)
[Read more about the 2015 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine]

Life: Born in 1930, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China, Tu Youyou is a Chinese pharmaceutical chemist and malariologist.
[Read more about Tu Youyou]

 

View Nobel Women infographic ]

Publish Date: 01 September 2020


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