The Campaign To Honour An Unsung Female Scientist On The New £50 Note

Photo: Universal History Archive / Getty Images.
This month, the Bank of England opened nominations for the face of the new £50 note.
The UK's central bank wants the new note to feature "someone who's contributed to the field of science".
The bank says we, the public, can nominate as many people as we like through its nominations website. But the person ultimately honoured on the note must be real (as opposed to a fictional character), dead rather than alive, and someone who "shaped thought, innovation, leadership or values in the UK".
Their work must "inspire people, not divide them", the bank adds.
Using the bank's criteria, it's clear that Rosalind Franklin – an incredibly talented chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work led to the discovery of DNA – is a prime contender.
Born in 1920 to an affluent British-Jewish family in west London, Franklin went on to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge University. Later, while working as a research associate at King's College London, she and her PhD student Raymond Gosling captured 'Photograph 51', a game-changing X-ray which revealed DNA's double helix structure for the first time.
As Franklin was preparing to leave King's College London, her colleague Maurice Wilkins showed 'Photograph 51' to two competing scientists, Sir Francis Crick and James Watson, without her knowledge or consent.
It proved to be a vital clue in the discovery of DNA, for which Crick, Watson and Wilkins won a Nobel Prize in 1962.
It's generally presumed that Franklin didn't receive a Nobel Prize with them because she had died from ovarian cancer four years earlier at just 37 years of age. The Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Prize doesn't tend to give out posthumous accolades.
In a 2015 article for The Guardian, Professor Matthew Cobb of the University of Manchester wrote: "It is clear that, had Franklin lived, the Nobel prize committee ought to have awarded her a Nobel prize, too – her conceptual understanding of the structure of the DNA molecule and its significance was on a par with that of Watson and Crick, while her crystallographic data were as good as, if not better, than those of Wilkins."
Imperial College's Kate Mulcahy has said Franklin "should be a feminist icon", writing in The Daily Telegraph: "She was caught in the power struggle of the men around her; left out of the Nobel Prize to which her work was essential and portrayed by her male peers in a sexist way."
Now, four ovarian cancer charities – Ovacome, Ovarian Cancer Action, Target Ovarian Cancer and The Eve Appeal – have come together to encourage people to vote for Franklin to be honoured on the new £50 note.
Calling Franklin "one of the unsung science heroes of the twentieth century", the charities say that "since Franklin’s death, there has been a growing recognition for her research into the molecular structure of coal, viruses and, of course, DNA, but lots of people still don’t know who she was".
Franklin was portrayed by Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51, an award-winning play by Anna Ziegler which opened in London's West End in September 2015.
If you'd like to nominate Franklin to become the face of the new £50 note, you can do so on the Bank of England's nominations website. The Ovarian cancer charities recommend that you copy and paste the following explanation for your choice into the relevant box: "Rosalind Franklin was a talented scientist and X-ray crystallographer. She helped the world understand the molecular structure of coal, numerous viruses and DNA. She died young of ovarian cancer, missing out on a Nobel Prize."

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