Rosalind Franklin was a British biophysicist who helped pioneer the discovery of the structure of DNA and its contributions to genetic structure.
Rosalind Elsie Franklin was born July 25, 1920 in Notting Hill, London, England, United Kingdom into an influential Jewish family,  a daughter of Ellis Arthur Franklin and Muriel Frances Waley. Her father was a London merchant banker who also taught electricity, magnetism, and World War I history at Working Men's College in the evenings and later became vice principal. Rosalind was the elder daughter of their five children. Her family helped settle Jewish refugees from Europe who had escaped the Nazis.
From early childhood, Rosalind showed exceptional intellectual abilities. She attended St. Paul's Girls' School while young, and later studied chemistry at Newnham College, Cambridge, England. Her aptitude in science was clear from an early age.
She was prepared to pursue a research fellowship in chemistry at Cambridge, but World War II derailed her plans. Instead she worked for the British Coal Utilisation Reseach Association, investigating the traits of carbon and coal, in addition to also serving as a London air raid warden. Her work during this time contributed to her doctoral thesis, resulting in her receiving her doctorate from Cambridge in 1945. From 1947 to 1950, she studied X-ray diffraction technology with Jacques Méring in Paris.
In 1951, Rosalind began a fellowship at the Biophysical Laboratory at King's College, London. She applied what she learned of X-ray diffraction methods to the study of DNA, which was still a very unknown field. She was able to discover the density of DNA as well as the fact that it existed in a helical conformation. Working with James Watson and Francis Crick, the structure of DNA was realized, a double-helix polymer, two strands of genetic material spiraled around each other. This was due largely in part to Rosalind's work in using X-rays to photograph the DNA structure. Her discovery of the dual helical structure was first published in "Nature" journal in 1953. Unfortunately, Rosalind was no longer alive by the time the other three reseachers involved, Watson, Crick, and Maurice Wilkins, were awarded their Nobel prizes for the DNA research.
From 1953 until her death, Rosalind worked in the Crystallography Laboratory at Birkbeck College in London, focusing on the molecular structure of the tobacco mosaic and polio viruses, most notably, the single strand nature of RNA within the virus.
Rosalind died of complications from ovarian cancer on April 16, 1958 in Chelsea, London, England, United Kingdom. She is buried in Willesden United Synagogue Cemetery, Willesden, London, England.
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