Dorothy Hodgkin: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

dorothy hodgkin


Remember in grade school when you did 3-D mapping of specific molecules? You can, in part, thank Dorothy Hodgkin, an incredibly influential British biochemist whose biggest contribution came in her mapping of molecules. May 12, 2014 marks her 104th birthday, and the occasion was celebrated by Google by introducing a Dorothy Hodgkin themed Google Doodle.

Here is what you need to know about Nobel Laureate Dorothy Hodgkin:

1. She Was Born in Egypt

Dorothy Hodgkin was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1910. She was raised as a British expatriate in Egypt by her father John Winter Crowfoot, an archeologist and classics scholar, and her mother Grace Crowfoot, an expert on ancient Egyptian textiles.

During WWI she was sent to England to begin her formal education. Before college, she developed an interest in Chemistry, and while studying at Oxford she became dedicated to X-ray crystallography, the study and mapping of molecular form.

2. She 3-D Mapped Molecules

In 1942, as bombs rained down on England, Hodgkin began X-raying molecules, eventually finding the exact structure for the vitamin B12. Her work on B12 catapulted her to international renowned and she presented her research in academies across the globe.

In 1934 and continuing on for many years, Hodgkin’s most renowned work involved the mapping of Insulin.

3. She Won the Nobel Prize in 1964

Her work on the mapping of Insulin earned her a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1964. Hodgkin became the third woman in history to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

She is also the only British woman to have ever won a Nobel prize in science.

4. She Was Banned From Entering the U.S. Because of Her Communist Husband

During the height of the United States’ “red scare,” Dorothy Hodgkin was not allowed into the United States. Her husband had been a one-time member of the Communist Party, as had many of her friends and close relations. So, in 1953, as Hodgkin attempted to enter the country, she was denied a visa.

5. A Google Doodle Celebrated Her Birthday

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 12.43.10 AM

In keeping with their attempt to highlight the achievements of great women in history, on May 12, Google celebrated Hodgkin’s 104th birthday with a Google Doodle. The sketch, which you can see above, mimics the mapping of a molecule.

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