New Rochelle, NY, February 8, 2019 — The Rosalind Franklin Society applauds the decision to rename the UK-based Mars Rover ExoMars as Rosalind Franklin, in honor of the British biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer who made critical contributions to the understanding of the fine molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal and graphite.
Rosalind Franklin was selected by the European Space Agency from nearly 36,000 responses received in response to a public call for suggestions. The Rover will be sent to Mars in 2020.
"As founder of the Rosalind Franklin Society, I am so very gratified, as are the members of our founding board, that the United Kingdom, where she made her remarkable discovery, is honoring her in such a magnificent way," said Mary Ann Liebert, Founder of RFS and CEO of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
The Rosalind Franklin Society honors the under-recognized achievements of the late Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), a British x-ray crystallographer whose work producing x-ray images of DNA was crucial in the discovery of its structure by James Watson and Francis Crick. Franklin symbolizes progress for women in science but her accomplishments were not recognized during her lifetime, awarded posthumously, nor are they completely acknowledged today. The Society works to enable women to achieve more tenure-track appointments in academia as well as leadership positions in industry, academia, and government. As these goals are achieved, the Society communicates them to the scientific community and to talented young women to motivate them to pursue science as a profession.
October, 2018 issue of RFS Briefings has some timely and encouraging updates on women in science, particularly:
Thomas A. Steitz, 78, Dies; Illuminated a Building Block of Life
Thomas A. Steitz, PhD, Yale University Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Professor of Chemistry, died October 9 at his home in Connecticut. Described as a "towering figure of late-20th century science," he was awarded a Nobel Prize in 2009 for his discovery of the exact size, shape, and position of every atom in the ribosome. This project, which took five years during his tenure at Yale, was a fundamental discovery because of its immediate application to medicine. It led to the understanding of how to find antibiotics that can evade drug-resistant bacteria. Dr. Steitz is survived by his wife of 52 years, Joan Argetsinger Steitz, PhD, Yale, an eminent molecular biologist who received this year's Lasker special achievement award in medical science in September. She is a founding board member of the Rosalind Franklin Society.
The Gruber Foundation Call for Nominations
The Gruber Foundation invites nominations on behalf of individuals whose achievements in Cosmology, Genetics, or Neuroscience would make them suitable candidates for recognition through the 2019 Gruber International Prize Program. Each prize, which is accompanied by a $500,000 unrestricted monetary award, is designed both to recognize groundbreaking work in each field and to inspire additional efforts that effect fundamental shifts in knowledge and culture. Recipients are selected by a committee of distinguished experts in each field. Nomination forms should be completed and submitted online. Please go to https://gruber.yale.edu/prize-nominations for complete details and access to forms.