Women In Genetics (WINGenetics)

Genetics is one among the earliest emerging disciplines in 20th century. For a brief sketch of the early history of genetics,  it failed to appreciate the contributions of women who were described as “INVISIBLE TECHNICIAN” by Steven Shapin (Science historian).    

List of Women Scientist in Genetics

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)

British Scientist, known for her contribution in discovery of the Double helix structure of DNA image – PHOTO 51 assisted the Watson, Crick and Wilkins deduce the correct structure of DNA. 

American Genetics, best known for her discovery of Sex Chromosomes in mealworm. She found that males reproductive cells with both X and Y chromosomes, whereas females has only X chromosomes. 

Nettie Stevens (1861-1912)
Barbara McClintock (1902-1992)

American Scientist and Cytogeneticist. She was credited for identifying and characterizing transposable elements – JUMPING GENES  in maize. She was the first women to win unshared Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1983 for revealing non static organism’s genome.  

Indian botanist specialized in Plant Breeding and Cytogenetics. She has worked on chromosome numbers and ploidy shed light on the evolution of species and varieties. First Indian women to attain a PhD in botany in US. 

Janaki Ammal (1897-1984)
Charlotte Auerbach (1899-1994)

German Jewish geneticist, started the study on mutagenesis in Drosophila demonstrated that mustard gas could induce mutations. 

American geneticist, she is known for confirm that DNA is genetic material of life, rather than protein, carried and transmitted genetic information using famous Hershey-Chase experiment.  

Martha Chase (1927-2003)
Marie Maynard Daly (1921-2003)

American biochemist, major contribution in the area of chemistry of histones and Protein synthesis. Also first black American women to earn PhD in chemistry in the US. 

American physical chemist. She is known as the founder of Bioinformatics. Pioneer in application of mathematics and computational techniques to the sequencing of protein and nucleic acid and first publicly available database for research. 

Margaret Oakley Dayhoof (1925-1983)
Mary Frances Lyon (1925-2014)

British geneticist, well known for her discovery of X-chromosome inactivation and this discovery has profound implications for clinical genetics and developmental biology. 

American microbiologist and major pioneer of Bacterial genetics. She is known for her discovery in lambda phase, F-plasmid and microbial technique of replica plating. These tools are widely used for gene regulation and genetic recombination. 

Esther Lederberg (1922-2006)
Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (1942-)

German developmental biologist. She worked on Drosophila, focused at genes involved in the fly’s body plan and segmentation, it lead to better understanding of human embryo development. She was awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her work. 

Australian-American biological researcher, well known for her work on telomeres and the co-discovery of telomerase. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discovery. 

Elizabeth Blackburn (1948-)

Few list of amazing women who had helped advance the field of genetics. It is important that we continue to recognize these achievements. 


Richmond, M. Opportunities for women in early genetics. Nat Rev Genet 8, 897–902 (2007). 


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Amrita rai

    Thank u for providing such a precious collection of information to us. 🙂

Leave a Reply