Rosalind Elsie Franklin (25 July 1920 – 16 April 1958) was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal, and graphite. A victim of male prejudice, she is also known as “wronged heroine of DNA.” Franklin is best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA, particularly Photo 51, while at King’s College London, which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix for which James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. After finishing her work on DNA, Franklin led pioneering work at Birkbeck on the molecular structures of viruses. Her team member Aaron Klug continued her research, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982.
She struggled throughout her life for recognition for her work among her male counterparts. Her work wasn’t highlighted while she was alive nor after her death for a long time. Her research played a huge role in the awarding of Nobel Prizes to Watson, Crick and Wilkins and Aaron Klug. She was a potent symbol of male prejudice and also her grave read that her work on viruses was of “lasting benefit to mankind”. However her top priority remained academic success.