For every Marie Curie or Rosalind Franklin whose story has been told, hundreds of female scientists remain unknown to the public at large. In this series, we illuminate the lives and work of a diverse array of groundbreaking scientists who, because of time, place and gender, have gone largely unrecognized. Each season we focus on a different scientist, putting her narrative into context, explaining not just the science but also the social and historical conditions in which she lived and worked. We also bring these stories to the present, painting a full picture of how her work endures.
Leona Woods Marshall Libby was the only woman hired onto Enrico Fermi's team at the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. She was just 23 years old, already had a Ph.D. in molecular spectroscopy and a deep understanding of vacuum technology. She was also the only woman present at the world’s first successful nuclear chain reaction. Amid all this, she managed to conceal her pregnancy until two days before her baby was born.