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article imageFive female scientists for National Safety Month

By Tim Sandle     Jun 16, 2018 in Science
During National Safety Month, held each June in the U.S., individuals and organizations participate by making efforts to reduce the leading causes of unintentional injury and death at work. To mark the event, five women from science are profile.
Five female scientists and their life-saving innovations are profiled here to mark National Safety Month. The reason is to acknowledge the impotence of safety, and particularly how technology can boost safety, as well as reflecting recent cultural dynamics (such as #metoo and the Women’s March).
By including names like Stephanie Kwolek, the woman fortifying our frontlines with the invention of Kevlar, and Maria Beasley, who threw a life line to stranded sailors with the invention of the life raft, such people who “break the mold” in STEM, can also be aspiring to young women weighing up whether or not to go into the field.
Stephanie Kwolek, Inventor of Kevlar
In 1964, Dupont chemist Stephanie Kwolek unearthed a world-changing discovery when attempting to identify a material alternative for tire production. In doing so, a combination of poly-p-phenylene terephthalate and polybenzamide formed a liquid solution that when hardened, was five times stronger than steel by weight. By 1971, this durable plastic material known as “Kevlar,” was introduced. Testing of its utility almost immediately included its application into a light-weight, able-bodied plastic-enriched armor for law enforcement workers that today has helped save many lives.
Maria Beasley, Inventor of the Life Raft
This entrepreneur from Philadelphia can claim a number of inventions, but her most significant has saved countless lives since mass adoption. In 1880, she invented a life raft – vastly enhanced from its wooden plank predecessors – which was now fire-proof (note wood does burn in the event of a ship fire) and compact enough to be mobile.
Marie Curie, Inventor of Theory of Radioactivity
A physicist and chemist, Marie pioneered the field of radioactivity and in doing so was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She developed the theory of radioactivity when she was successfully able to isolate two isotopes and in doing so discovered two elements: polonium and radium. Her theory led to life-saving discoveries in X-ray technology (she also developed mobile units to provide X-ray services to field hospitals during WWI) which today serves as a primary detection and diagnosis tool for physicians.
Katharine Burr Blodgett, Inventor of Non-reflective Glass
Scientist and inventor Katharine Blodgett was the first woman to receive a Ph.D in physics at Cambridge University. She joined many women in supporting the wartime effort when she played a role researching gas masks and smoke screens. Here, she made what was perhaps her most significant contribution with the discovery of non-reflective glass which was used defensively in periscope manufacturing. Today, non-reflective glass is used in the production of protective eyeglasses and car windshields, as well as movie projectors and computer screens.
Rosalind Franklin, Inventor of the Double Helix Theory
A chemist working at Cambridge’s esteemed physical chemistry laboratory, Rosalind contributed to the field of DNA, RNA and viruses – shaping our theory of these molecular structures as we understand them today. Her DNA double-helix theory – extracted from intensive X-Ray assessments – revealed that DNA is composed of two strands. The double-helix theory allows scientists and researchers to better understand the complexities of genetics and its influence on diseases, disorders and other health-impacting subjects.
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