Dorothy Hodgkin

Happy WiSE Wednesday! This week we are featuring Dorothy Hodgkin. Dorothy was a British biochemist who spent her career developing protein crystallography techniques. Hodgkin was born in Cairo, Egypt to English Archaeologists performing their field work there. Her parents' profession sparked her fascination with minerals and crystals. When she was 15, her mother gave her Sir William Henry Bragg’s "Concerning the Nature of Things", which discussed how scientists could use X-Rays to “see” atoms. She went on to study both physics and chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford. Her senior research project focused on X-Ray crystallography, which was still a very new field of research at the time. After graduation, she obtained her PhD from Cambridge where she worked with John Bernal. They jointly determined the structure of several complex organic molecules important to the function of living organisms. As a pioneering X-Ray Crystallographer, she confirmed the structures of both Penicillin and Vitamin B12. In 1969, Dorothy solved the structure of Insulin. In 1964, she won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work on developing crystallographic techniques to solve molecular structures. She was the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.