Professor Dorothy Hodgkin OM (1910–1994)
Born in Egypt she was sent to England with her three sisters, as youngsters, to gain their education. By age 10, Dorothy was already fascinated with crystals. Her mother encouraged her to follow her passion. Dorothy did so.
Dorothy aimed to go to university to continue her love of science. In those days women had to fight hard to achieve anything that was seen as a man’s domain. Outside of the home, most things were considered outside the capabilities of women. Dorothy fought hard to be allowed to study science along-side the males. Hodgkin was successful and in 1928 commenced a chemistry degree at the University of Oxford.
She proceeded to do her doctoral research in 1932 with John Bernal, a leading British physicist.
In 1964 Hodgkin was awarded the Nobel prize for Chemistry due to her work with penicillin and vitamin B. Her work was outstanding making critical discoveries of both structures and later insulin.
Without a doubt, her discoveries led to significant improvements in the area of health care.
In 1965, Dorothy Hodgkin was made a member of the Order of Merit. The Order of Merit, is a British honorary institution. It was founded in 1902 by Edward VII. Its purpose was to reward those who provided exceptionally outstanding and important service in the armed forces or for outstanding contribution in science, art, literature, or the promotion of culture. A very high honour indeed.
Both men and women are permitted to receive this highest of acknowledgment. Having said that, Dorothy was the second woman to have this honoured bestowed upon her. The first woman was Florence Nightingale in 1907. Now that is a massive gap in time.
Although she was an absolute legend in chemistry, that obviously wasn’t enough. Dorothy also devoted her life to the peace movement and pushed for nuclear disarmament.
Dorothy Hodgkins died July 29, 1994, in Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, England.