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Our Science Heroes

We love highlighting scientists you may not have heard of, often with a gorgeous illustration by cartoonist and neuroscientist Matteo Farinella. Eventually, we want to build a deck of cards to celebrate great, under-appreciated figures from the annals of science.

Featuring 40 articles by 18 scientists

Meet Hypatia, the ancient mathematician who helped preserve seminal texts

Her dramatic death often overshadows her epic life, but it shouldn't

Brianna Bibel

Biochemistry

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

There was so much more to Rachel Carson beyond 'Silent Spring'

The trained zoologist and a bureaucrat pushed for environmental safety her whole life

Jenny Howard

Ecology

Wake Forest University

Meet Mary Anning, a fossil hunter who changed the way we think about the history of life on Earth

The ichthyosaur she found helped prove extinction

Jerald Pinson

Botany

University of Florida

Meet Mary Golda Ross, one of the first Native Americans in engineering

Much of her Cold War work on missiles is still classified today

Jenny Howard

Ecology

Wake Forest University

Meet Barbara McClintock, who used corn to decipher 'jumping genes'

Through meticulous crossbreeding, she showed that DNA is far more complicated than scientists originally thought

Yewande Pearse

Neuroscience

LA Biomed

Meet Ynes Mexia, late-blooming botanist whose adventures rivaled Darwin's

Eighty years after her death, scientists are still processing the plants she collected

Gabriela Serrato Marks

Marine Geology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Meet Helen Rodríguez-Trías, pediatrician-turned-healthcare activist

She pushed to end sterilization, legalize abortion, and give poor people access to quality care

Natalie Parletta

Psychology and Nutrition

University of South Australia

Meet Jane Marcet, whose books made science accessible

She recreated her own informal learning process in print, to much success

Natasha Chrisandina

Chemical Engineering

Georgia Institute of Technology

Three times Louise Slaughter used her microbiology training in Congress

The lawmaker, who died last month, pushed for public health reform

Jennifer Tsang

Microbiology

Four facts about Jane Goodall, primatologist, anthropologist, and activist

Her unorthodox research showed us that chimpanzees are far more human than we thought

Brittney Borowiec

Environmental Physiology

McMaster University

Meet Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the astrophysicist who first noticed pulsars

Through sheer tenacity she has forged a career in a male-dominated field

Yewande Pearse

Neuroscience

LA Biomed

Meet Katherine Johnson, the computer who helped send men to the moon

John Glenn wouldn't blast off until she double-checked the IBM's calculations

Jenny Howard

Ecology

Wake Forest University

Five facts about Rita Levi-Montalcini, who figured out how neurons grow

She bested anti-Semitism and sexism to have a Nobel-winning career

Lauren Mackenzie Reynolds

Neuroscience

McGill University

5 facts about Frances Hamerstrom, wildlife biologist, hunter, and savior of the prairie chicken

As a kid, she dissected blue jays and built a garden whose path was lined with poison ivy

Ashley Juavinett

Neuroscience

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Meet Vera Rubin, the stargazer who predicted dark matter

From childhood, she preferred 'to stay up and watch the stars than go to sleep'

Brittney Borowiec

Environmental Physiology

McMaster University

Meet Mamie Phipps Clark, the social psychologist who helped outlaw segregated schools

She became the first black woman to earn a PhD in psychology from Columbia University

Lauren Mackenzie Reynolds

Neuroscience

McGill University

Six facts about Gertrude Elion, a legend in drug discovery

She experienced many obstacles, but her perseverance and passion always won

Gregory Logan-Graf

Cell Biology

Carnegie Mellon University

Four facts about Marie Tharp, the woman whose art mapped the bottom of the sea

She discovered the Earth's 'backbone' even though men wouldn't let her on a ship for 17 years

Cassie Freund

Ecology

Wake Forest University

Remembering Ursula K. Le Guin, an inspiration to scientists

Le Guin was a testament to how fiction reveals truth, empathy, and the beauty of knowledge

Meet the barrier-breaking physicist hunting gravity with lasers

Nergis Mavalvala explores gravitational waves and quantum physics

Prabarna Ganguly

Neuroscience

Northeastern University

5 facts about Marie Curie, chemist, physicist, and Nobel legend

She was the first woman to win one – much less two – Nobel Prizes

Lauren Mackenzie Reynolds

Neuroscience

McGill University

The prolific life of Wang Zhenyi, autodidact, astronomer, and poet

Progressive in science and art, she disregarded sexist norms of Qing-dynasty China

Devang Mehta

Genomics

University of Alberta

5 facts about Hedy Lamarr, star, inventor, wartime code maker

“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid”

Elle O'Brien

Computational Neuroscience

5 facts about Marjorie Lee Browne, African American math prodigy and pioneer

Breaking through barriers of race and gender, she pursued the beauty of pure math

Ashley Juavinett

Neuroscience

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

5 facts about Rosalind Franklin, DNA pioneer

She helped discover DNA, got snubbed by her contemporaries, and kept right on going

Alireza Edraki

Evolutionary Biology

University of Massachusetts Medical School

5 facts about Jean Bartik, expert programmer of the world's first computer

"The ENIAC was a son of a b**** to program"

Ashley Juavinett

Neuroscience

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Five facts about Mae Jemison, doctor, dancer, and the first woman of color in space

You know she went to space. But do you know which TV show inspired her to go?

Ana Gorelova

Molecular Pharmacology

University of Pittsburgh

Five facts about Mary Putnam Jacobi, medical pioneer and suffragette

She was a true renaissance woman

Ashley Juavinett

Neuroscience

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Five facts about Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space

Two decades before Sally Ride, a Soviet woman rose from obscurity to become the first female cosmonaut

Five facts about Linda Buck, olfactory pioneer

The Nobel Prize-winning biologist revolutionized how we think about our noses

Meet the astronomer who changed how we see the stars

Williamina Fleming pioneered a system for classifying stars and discovered the Horsehead Nebula

Maryam Mirzakhani died Friday. Her legacy lives on

The first woman to win a Fields Medal was only 40, but she revolutionized mathematics

Meet the "First Lady of Physics," "Queen of Nuclear Research," and destroyer of natural laws

Chien-Shiung Wu conducted some of the most elegant particle physics experiments of her time

Meet the chemist who engineered the first effective treatment of leprosy

Alice Augusta Ball’s died at the age of 24. Ninety years later, we finally started recognizing her contributions.

4 incredible fossils found by paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey

Meet the British anthropologist who completely changed our understanding of the hominid ancestral tree

Meet the woman who changed how we treat cancer

Jane Cooke Wright saved millions by making chemotherapy more effective

Meet the physicist who helped discover three fundamental particles

Most scientists spend their careers hoping for a single big discovery. Sau Lan Wu has had three and is still searching for more.

Meet the first black woman to earn a PhD in chemistry

Marie Maynard Daly worked at a time when our understanding of DNA was changing in big ways

3 incredible stories from the life of nanoscience pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus

The “Queen of Carbon” didn’t earn her title by playing by the rules