Name of new Science Centre revealed

Rosalind Franklin was a pioneering British scientist who made important contributions to the discovery of DNA but whose role is often overlooked.

The University wanted to honour her achievements and inspire its students. The six storey building on Stafford Street will feature state-of-the art lab facilities for around 2,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students and be home to around 150 Faculty of Science and Engineering staff.

It will also include an area through which the public can view the inside of the building and see experiments and teaching in action. The new development is part of a wider aim to raise aspirations and create a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) resource for local schools and colleges.

Rosalind Franklin completed her studies at Newnham College Cambridge in 1941 but was only awarded a degree titular, as women were not entitled to degrees at that time. By 1953 when Crick and Watson proposed their hypothetical model of the structure of DNA, her work in X-Ray diffraction had provided a significant empirical basis for their model.

After finishing her portion of the work on DNA, she led pioneering work on the polio virus.

Vice Chancellor Professor Geoff Layer said: “We’re delighted to announce that the Science Centre will be named the Rosalind Franklin building.

“The choice of her name for the new building gives the University an opportunity to honour a scientist who was not recognised for her achievements during her career. She is now seen to have made a major contribution to modern biology. Her career also reflects the difficulties faced by female scientists in the 20th century and a reminder of the need to improve matters in the 21st.

“The centre will be home to the next generation of scientists who can draw inspiration from Franklin’s pioneering role in the discovery of DNA. It’s an excellent opportunity to promote and value a famous British female scientist and demonstrate the commitment of the university as a community to the cause of advancing the role of women in the STEM subjects.”

The Science Centre will open as part of a phased approach with the first part opening in September and the remainder in December.

ENDS

For more information please contact Emma Pugh in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322736.

Date Issued: August 15, 2014.

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