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Lost Women of Science

Lost Women of Science

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.

Copyright 2021 Lost Women of Science

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.

Copyright 2021 Lost Women of Science
33hr 21min
Thumbnail for "Women of the Manhattan Project: Trailer".
Thousands of scientists worked on the Manhattan project, the top secret push to develop an atomic bomb that would end World War II. Hundreds of those scientists were women.
Thumbnail for "Lost Women of Science Conversations: Wild By Design".
Female scientists played a vital role in establishing the field of ecological restoration, but their stories were lost. Laura Martin rediscovers their groundbreaking work.
Thumbnail for "Revisiting The Pathologist in the Basement: Episode 4 Breakfast in the Snow".
Dr. Dorothy Andersen’s work paved the way for new treatments of cystic fibrosis that have turned a deadly disease into a treatable condition.
Thumbnail for "Revisiting the Pathologist in the Basement: Episode 3 The Case of the Missing Portrait".
Hunting for a lost portrait of Dr. Dorothy Andersen highlights how the “dude walls” found at so many institutions shape our understanding of the past.
Thumbnail for "Revisiting the Pathologist in the Basement: Episode 2 The Matilda Effect".
Dr. Dorothy Andersen’s role in groundbreaking research into cystic fibrosis fails to get the recognition it deserves because of the Matilda Effect.
Thumbnail for "Revisiting the Pathologist in the Basement ".
Episode 1: The Question Mark. Dr. Dorothy Andersen makes a startling discovery.
Thumbnail for "Lost Women of Science Conversations: Mathematics for Ladies".
When poet Jessy Randall saw that so many female scientists weren’t getting their due, she got mad. And then she decided to write poems for as many as she could.
Thumbnail for "Elizabeth Bates and the Search for the Roots of Human Language".
In the 1970s, a young psychologist challenged a popular theory of how we acquire language, launching a fierce debate that continues to this day.
Thumbnail for "The Theoretical Physicist Who Worked With J. Robert Oppenheimer at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age".
Melba Phillips co-authored a paper with J. Robert Oppenheimer in 1935 that proved important in the development of nuclear physics. Later, she became an outspoken critic of nuclear weapons.
Thumbnail for "Best Of: The Highest of All Ceilings, Astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin".
Nearly 100 years ago, a young astronomer named Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin told us what stars are made of and turned the world on its head. No one believed her at first. Later, she was proven right.
Thumbnail for "The Victorian Woman Who Chased Eclipses".
Annie Maunder was an astronomer who expanded our understanding of the sun at the turn of the 20th century. Her passion was photographing eclipses.
Thumbnail for "Lost Women of Science Conversations: Mischievous Creatures".
Two sisters made significant contributions to botany and entomology but their stories were erased – accidentally and by design – from the history of early American science. Catherine McNeur tells us how she rediscovered them.
Thumbnail for "The Cognitive Scientist Who Unraveled the Mysteries of Language".
Ursula Bellugi became fixated on the question of how we learn language. Her research on sign language in particular had a major impact on our understanding of how language skills and biology are interconnected.
Thumbnail for "Best Of: Meet the Physicist who Spoke Out Against the Bomb She Helped Create".
Days after Oppenheimer won big at the Oscars, we look at the life and scientific contributions of nuclear physicist Kay Way, who worked on the Manhattan Project but ended up rallying fellow scientists to oppose the use of nuclear weapons.
Thumbnail for "How Lilian Bland Built Herself A Plane".
In 1910, an Anglo-Irish women named Lilian Bland built a plane, with little to no encouragement from her family or aviation enthusiasts. Shortly after the plane took off, she quit flying, moving on to her next challenge.
Thumbnail for "Lost Women of Science Conversations: The Black Angels".
Black nurses worked through unsanitary conditions and racial prejudice to help patients through the debilitating disease TB before a cure was found—with their help
Thumbnail for "The Industrial Designer Behind the N95 Mask".
Sara Little Turnbull used material science to invent and design products for the modern world.
Thumbnail for "The Universe in Radio Vision".
Ruby Payne-Scott helped unlock a new way of seeing the universe, but to keep her job, Ruby had to keep a big secret.
Thumbnail for "From Our Inbox: Forgotten Electrical Engineer’s Work Paved the Way for Radar Technology".
Sallie Pero Mead made major discoveries about how electromagnetic waves propagate, which allowed objects to be detected at a distance.
Thumbnail for "Best of: A Complicated Woman, Leona Zacharias".
A blindness epidemic among premature babies, and a brilliant biologist whose story hits close to home here at Lost Women of Science.
Thumbnail for "From Our Inbox: Vera Peters - The Doctor Who Helped Spare Women From Radical Mastectomy".
Canadian Radiation Oncologist Vera Peters pioneered the use of lumpectomies and postoperative radiation to treat breast cancer patients.
Thumbnail for "Adventures of a Bone Hunter".
Annie Montague Alexander went on paleontology expeditions most women could only dream of in the early 1900s.
Thumbnail for "Emma Unson Rotor: The Filipina Physicist Who Helped Develop a Top Secret Weapon".
Emma Unson Rotor worked on the proximity fuze, a groundbreaking piece of World War II weapons technology that the U.S. War Department called “second only to the atomic bomb.”
Thumbnail for "Flapper of the South Seas: A Young Margaret Mead Travels To The South Seas".
Anthropologist Margaret Mead journeyed to American Samoa in 1925 to explore adolescent development. Fame and controversy followed the publication of her book Coming of Age in Samoa.
Thumbnail for "The Devastating Logic of Christine Ladd-Franklin".
A master of logic battled her peers, her university and her own grandmother to get what was hers.
Thumbnail for "Best Of: The Feminist Test We Keep Failing".
What are the rules of engagement when writing the stories of female scientists? We talk with the women who came up with the Finkbeiner Test, a checklist to keep sexism out of the narrative.
Thumbnail for "From Our Inbox: Mária Telkes, The Biophysicist Who Harnessed Solar Power".
Hungarian-American biophysicist and inventor Mária Telkes, who was nicknamed The Sun Queen, created a solar oven and one of the first solar-heated houses in 1948.
Thumbnail for "The Woman Who Demonstrated the Greenhouse Effect".
In 1856, Eunice Foote showed that CO2 traps the heat of the sun, beating the so-called “father of the greenhouse effect” by at least three years. Why was she forgotten?
Thumbnail for "Dr. Rebecca Crumpler, America's First Black Female Public Health Pioneer".
While the Civil War raged, Rebecca Crumpler became the first Black woman in the U.S. to earn an MD and to write a medical book, a popular guide with a preventive approach
Thumbnail for "Flemmie Kittrell and the Preschool Experiment".
A 1960s home economist runs a radical experiment in her preschool laboratory
Thumbnail for "From Our Inbox: A Microbe Hunter in Oregon Fights the 1918 Influenza Pandemic".
It's a global pandemic. The year is not 2020 but 1918, and Harriet Jane Lawrence is developing a vaccine against the deadliest influenza outbreak the world has ever seen.
Thumbnail for "The English Lit Major Who Cracked Nazi Codes".
How Elizebeth Smith Friedman went from scouring Shakespeare for secret codes to taking down Nazi spy rings
Thumbnail for "Who was Christine Essenberg? A remarkable zoologist almost lost to history".
How eight pages hidden in an archive led to the the discovery of the remarkable life of one of the first female zoologist
Thumbnail for "Dr. Sarah Loguen Fraser, an ex-slave’s daughter, becomes a celebrated doctor".
Meet Dr. Sarah Loguen Fraser, daughter of abolitionists and one of the first African American female doctors trained after the Civil War.
Thumbnail for "A Flair for Efficiency: The Woman Who Redesigned the American Kitchen".
Lillian Gilbreth was an expert on workplace efficiency. But when her husband and business partner died and their clients deserted her, she switched course and used her skills to revolutionize the home.
Thumbnail for "Part 2: Why Did Lise Meitner Never Receive the Nobel Prize for Splitting the Atom?".
In the aftermath of the discovery of nuclear fission, letters exchanged between Lise Meitner and the chemist Otto Hahn reveal how she struggled with the betrayal of Hahn, her long-time scientific collaborator, who failed not only to credit her for her work but also to condemn the Nazi atrocities.
Thumbnail for "Part 1: Why Did Lise Meitner Never Receive the Nobel Prize for Splitting the Atom?".
New translations of Meitner’s letters show that antisemitism before and after World War II robbed Meitner of the 1944 Nobel Prize that went to her long-time collaborator chemist Otto Hahn.
Thumbnail for "They Remembered the Lost Women of the Manhattan Project So That We Wouldn't Forget".
As part of our Lost Women of the Manhattan Project special series, we pay tribute to physicists Ruth Howes and Caroline Herzenberg, whose ten-year research project ensured a place in history for the female scientists, engineers and technicians who worked on the atomic bomb.
Thumbnail for "Meet the Physicist who Spoke Out Against the Bomb She Helped Create".
Kay Way was a nuclear physicist who was an expert in radioactive decay. After working on the atomic bomb she became an outspoken opponent of nuclear weapons.
Thumbnail for "The Story of the Real Lilli Hornig, the Only Female Scientist Named in the Film Oppenheimer".
Lilli Hornig is the only female scientist mentioned by name in the film Oppenheimer. Here's the story of the real Lilli Hornig.
Thumbnail for "No Place for a Woman in Mathematics? The Woman Who Ended up Supervising The Computations that Proved an Atomic Bomb Would Work ".
Naomi Livesay supervised the mechanical computing operation at Los Alamos and worked on computations that formed the mathematical basis for implosion simulations. Despite her crucial role on the project, she has rarely been mentioned as more than a footnote. Until now.
Thumbnail for "Blood, Sweat, and Fears: The Story of Floy Agnes Lee, the Young Woman Who Analyzed the Blood of Manhattan Project Scientists".
Aggie Lee, a young indigenous woman from Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, began working on the Manhattan Project in 1945. Her job: to monitor scientists' blood for excessive radiation exposure. Yet she didn't know that she was contributing to the building of the atomic bomb. Years later, she blamed the radiation for a series of cancer deaths in her family.
Thumbnail for "One of Many Lost Women of the Manhattan Project: Leona Woods Marshall Libby".
Just 23 years old and armed with a Ph.D., Leona Woods joined Enrico Fermi as he led a team working to produce the world's first successful nuclear chain reaction.
Thumbnail for "From Our Inbox: Alessandra Giliani, 14th-century Italian anatomist ".
700 years ago, a girl braved all for science. Alessandra Giliani was the first female anatomist of the western world. The only way she could work was disguised as a man.
Thumbnail for "The Highest of All Ceilings: Astronomer Cecilia Payne".
Nearly 100 years ago, a young astronomer named Cecilia Payne turned the world's understanding of what stars are made of on its head. No one believed her at first. Later, she was proven right.
Thumbnail for "What's in a Street Name? Everything.".
Nyswanderweg, a tiny street in Hamburg, Germany, is easy to miss. Yet it’s the only street in the world named after the American methadone pioneer, Marie Nyswander. How did that happen?
Thumbnail for "The Doctor and the Fix: Chapter 5".
In many ways, Marie Nyswander got what she wanted after discovering the miracles of methadone, but how well has that worked out?
Thumbnail for "Reminder about next episode and an update".
Just a reminder that we're scheduled to come back next week with our final episode—and an update.
Thumbnail for "The Doctor and the Fix: Chapter 4".
Marie thinks she’s finally found a treatment for heroin addiction that will work as a long-term solution, but not everyone agrees—including some of the people she’s trying to help.
Thumbnail for "The Doctor and the Fix: Chapter 3".
The doctor embarks on the most important experiment of her career.
Thumbnail for "The Doctor and the Fix: Chapter 2".
A young psychoanalyst specializing in sexual issues starts getting calls for help – about something else entirely.
Thumbnail for "The Doctor and the Fix: Chapter 1".
A young doctor looking for adventure abroad is posted to rural Kentucky, where she learns about addiction for the first time—and starts ruffling feathers.
Thumbnail for "The Doctor and the Fix: Trailer".
The Doctor and the Fix: How Marie Nyswander changed the landscape of addiction
Thumbnail for "Of Chestnuts, Cherry Trees, and Mushroom Catsup: Flora Patterson, the Woman who Kept Devastating Blights from U.S. Shores".
Flora Wambaugh Patterson, a widowed mother of two, played a crucial role in keeping fungal blights from U.S. shores.
Thumbnail for "A Complicated Woman: Leona Zacharias".
A blindness epidemic among premature babies, and a brilliant biologist whose story hits close to home here at Lost Women of Science.
Thumbnail for "Introducing Lost Women of Science Shorts: Trailer".
Our brand new mini-series – 30-minute episodes, each devoted to the story of one overlooked female scientists.
Thumbnail for "The Woman Who Knocked Science Sideways".
A special guest episode from Portraits
Thumbnail for "The Feminist Test We Keep Failing".
There's a test that we at Lost Women of Science seem to fail again and again: the Finkbeiner Test.
Thumbnail for "The First Lady of Engineering: An Interview with Y.Y.'s Daughter, Carol Lawson ".
A special guest episode from Our Mothers Ourselves
Thumbnail for "The First Lady of Engineering: Chapter 4".
YY taught at Tennessee State University for 55 years. We look at her legacy as an engineer, an educator and a mom. And we investigate how HBCUs are training the next generation of Black scientists.
Thumbnail for "The First Lady of Engineering: Chapter 3".
What did YY actually do as a mechanical engineer? We dive into her work at NASA, and the history of the American space program.
Thumbnail for "The First Lady of Engineering: Chapter 2".
When YY started college at Howard University, there were three things she swore she’d never do: marry a tall man, become a teacher, and work for the government. But love and life had other plans.
Thumbnail for "The First Lady of Engineering: Chapter 1".
With her knack for fixing household appliances in early childhood, YY was practically born an engineer. And fortunately, she had a family that nurtured her atypical interest—even when the segregated South made pursuing it almost impossible.
Thumbnail for "The First Lady of Engineering: Trailer".
She’s the first, the first, the first…
Thumbnail for "Meet our new cohost!".
Meet our cohost this season, Carol Sutton Lewis
Thumbnail for "A Grasshopper in Tall Grass: The Weather Myth ".
When we first started researching Klára Dán von Neumann, we thought she was “the computer scientist you should thank for your smartphone's weather app.” It turns out, that’s not true.
Thumbnail for "A Grasshopper in Tall Grass: Chapter 5".
A new home, a new husband, and a new project.
Thumbnail for "A Grasshopper in Tall Grass: Chapter 4".
Klári von Neumann enters the Netherworld of computer simulations and postwar Los Alamos.
Thumbnail for "A Grasshopper in Tall Grass: Chapter 3".
The ENIAC, an early electronic computer, gets a makeover.
Thumbnail for "A Grasshopper in Tall Grass: Chapter 2".
Klári von Neumann arrives in Princeton just as war breaks out in Europe.
Thumbnail for "A Grasshopper in Tall Grass: Chapter 1".
Before she entered a world of secrecy, computers and nuclear weapons, who was Klára von Neumann?
Thumbnail for "A Grasshopper in Very Tall Grass: Trailer".
Don’t know who Klára Dán von Neumann was? You’re not alone.
Thumbnail for "The Pathologist in the Basement: The Resignation".
We investigate the curious, charged circumstances surrounding the resignation of the director of pediatrics at Columbia University's Babies Hospital, and one pathologist at the center of it all: Dorothy Andersen.
Thumbnail for "The Pathologist in the Basement: Chapter 4".
Dr. Andersen’s legacy creates hope for those living with cystic fibrosis today.
Thumbnail for "The Pathologist in the Basement: Chapter 3".
A missing portrait of Dr. Andersen takes us on a journey into the perils of memorialization—and who gets to be remembered.
Thumbnail for "The Pathologist in the Basement: Chapter 2".
The traces Dr. Andersen left behind provide glimpses into her life.
Thumbnail for "The Pathologist in the Basement: Chapter 1".
While performing an autopsy on the body of a young child, Dr. Dorothy Andersen made a startling discovery.
Thumbnail for "The Pathologist in the Basement: Trailer".
The medical detective work of Dr. Dorothy Andersen, a pathologist and pediatrician, led to our current understanding of Cystic Fibrosis. But who was she?
Thumbnail for "Lost Women of Science: Trailer".
Lost Women of Science digs deep to uncover stories of scientists that have long been overlooked.

Women of the Manhattan Project: Trailer

Thumbnail for "Women of the Manhattan Project: Trailer".
July 13, 20231min 30sec

During World War II, thousands of scientists and engineers worked on the Manhattan project, the top secret push to develop an atomic bomb that would end the war. Two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did just that, while also killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians. The devastating potential of nuclear weapons sparked a moral controversy that continues to this day.

Hundreds of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project were women. Over the next few weeks we’ll be bringing you a few of their stories.Paula Mangin