Daughters and Famous Women Chemists

Earlier last month, you may have seen a beautiful set of images by Austin-based wedding and lifestyle photographer Jaime C. Moore. To celebrate the 5th birthday of her daughter Emma, Moore wrote:

Set aside the Barbie dolls and Disney princesses for just a moment and let’s show our girls the real women they can be.

Moore then had Emma do some five-year-old dressing and posing, but in character of some major female role models throughout history:

Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhardt, Coco Chanel, Helen Keller, and Jane Goodall.

(Commenters politely focused on Chanel’s business acumen and not her less savory political associations.)

@Katie_PhD as Rosie the Rainin Riveter. Credit: Dr. Katie Pratt

@Katie_PhD as Rosie the Rainin Riveter. Credit: Dr. Katie Pratt

Moore’s photography is beautiful (and we may have to go down to Austin for a new series of family photos ourselves) and she captures all the promise and aspirations a five-year-old girl might have to do something other than be a helpless damsel-in-distress in psychotherapy because of a cruel and manipulative stepmother.

With our PharmKid approaching 11, we still maintain a large house collection of costumes and various get-ups that began with Disney princesses and has now progressed to characters she and her friends concoct (now writing screenplays to accompany their stories while Dad is drafted for filming purposes).

But I wish that we had instead been overrun with role-playing costumes for our daughter to emulate women of strong character and high intellect.

So I got to thinking: Why don’t we have costumes for our girls to dress up as famous women scientists, especially female chemists?

And with all due respect to Marie Curie and Irene Joilot-Curie, perhaps we might find more contemporary characters for our daughters.

For me, as a North Carolinian and cancer pharmacologist, the chemist character I’d most love to see around here is the late Nobel laureate and Burroughs-Wellcome chemist, Gertrude (Trudy) Elion – in a single, striking royal blue gown. But here, even I fall into the trap of thinking of a deceased character.

How about Ada Yonath, ribosome structural chemist and 2009 Nobel laureate in chemistry?

Therefore, I turn to you, Dear Reader. If we were to, say, launch a Kickstarter campaign for the manufacture of famous women costume sets for young girls, who of today’s women chemists would be ones you’d like to see your daughter personify?


Author: David Kroll

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  1. Awesomest women chemists = Carolyn Bertozzi (UC Berkeley), Joanne Stubbe (MIT), Amy Rosenzweig (Northwestern, previous MacArthur winner), Joan Valentine (UCLA), Melanie Sanford (UMichigan, previous MacArthur winner), Christina White (UIUC), Sarah Reisman (CIT), Jillian Dempsey (UNC), Emily Weiss (Northwestern)

    … Just a small list of some of my favorite scientists (and I’m sure I’m missing a couple)


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