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Rosalind Franklin - The scientist who gave shape to DNA

British Chemist Rosalind Franklin was born in Notting Hill, London in 1920. From the age of 15 she knew she wanted to be a scientist so her family secured her a place at one of the few schools in the country which taught science to girls at that time.

Rosalind’s passion for science grew, she excelled in her studies and gained a place at Newnham College, Cambridge in 1938 to study Chemistry. She graduated in 1941 and immediately began work for her PhD where she studied the structure of coal, exploring methods of producing energy from it more efficiently. It was this work that would set the foundation for her breakthrough in photographing the structure of DNA.  

Like many scientists today, Rosalind’s talent gave her opportunities to work abroad, she travelled to Paris, where she pioneered new techniques for photographing crystals using X-Ray. 

In 1951 Rosalind moved to Kings College, London, where she photographed the structure of DNA and made one of most influential discoveries in the field of Chemistry to take place in the 20th Century. She photographed the structure of DNA, proving that it had a double helical structure. Much controversy surrounds the level of professional acclaim that Rosalind Franklin received for her discovery but her research is highly commended to this day.   

Rosalind Franklin’s passion for science and the discovery of new things made her unique and drove her to overcome barriers that prevented women from realising their potential as Scientists in the era where she lived and worked. Rosalind Franklin’s story demonstrates one of our key principles as the University of Opportunity; the study of science not exclusive to one group of people, science subjects can be enjoyed by all and benefit everyone. The Rosalind Franklin Building will provide the people within our Region with some of the best facilities available to study science for both educational and commercial applications.

The University of Wolverhampton pays tribute to Rosalind Franklin for her ambition, her achievement and her legacy. We have dedicated this Science Building to her honour as a shining example to all who study and work here.