April 28, 2023

Influential Women in Science 

Women have been at the forefront of natural world discoveries and scientific advancements for centuries.

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For centuries, women have been at the forefront of natural world discoveries and scientific advancements. From protecting natural ecosystems to better understanding human behavior, meet a few of the many women in science who have had a major impact on communities around the world and continue to inspire new generations of women in science. 

Dr. Janaki Ammal 

Dr. Janaki Ammal was a prominent botanist in the early 1900s. Her work in crossbreeding and hybridization brought India a stronger strain of sweet sugarcane, helping the country gain sugarcane independence. 

Dr. Ammal also coauthored “Chromosome Atlas of Cultivated Plants,” which cataloged almost 100,000 plant species’ chromosomes and is still widely used today by botanists. 

One of Dr. Ammal’s most significant projects was conservation through the Save Silent Valley social movement. With her help, Silent Valley National Park in Kerala, India, stands today as one of India’s last pieces of undisturbed forest. 

Mary Anning 

From a young age, Many Anning was imbedded in paleontology. Her family lived close to the shoreline of England’s Channel Coast and often went to find fossils. 

Anning and her brother found and excavated the first Ichthyosaur, and later, in 1824, she discovered the first Plesiosaur. 

Anning continued to find fossils, teach herself paleontology, geology and paleontology and make significant contributions to paleontology throughout her life. Her findings helped push paleontology forward and provided vital specimens for understanding the Mesozoic Era more completely. 

Rachel Carson  

Profound marine biologist and environmental author Rachel Carson was at the forefront of environmental awareness and conservation from the 1950s to the 1980s. 

Carson’s book “The Silent Spring” helped raise awareness of how different chemicals affect the environment. Her work primarily focused on pesticides and their impact on humans and ecosystems. 

The work of Carson helped start a movement that was the basis for the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Quannah Chasinghorse  

Model and climate activist Quannah Chasinghorse is a Native American teen raising awareness for climate issues and fighting to conserve Alaska’s Arctic Wildlife Refuge. 

Following in her mother’s footsteps of activism, Quannah Chasinghorse uses her social media platforms to educate the world on the threats facing the Alaskan landscape and her tribe, the Gwich’in people. 

She innovates how environmental activists spread information and fight to protect the natural world. 

  Dr. Jane Goodall   

A profound ethologist, Dr. Jane Goodall, spent over 20 years researching chimpanzees in Tanzania. Her research helps us understand where the connection between humans and primates comes from and what behaviors are distinctly human. 

Dr. Goodall’s work supports the idea that our behaviors, like those of chimpanzees, came from a common ancestor and are not innately human. 

Dr. Goodall has helped us gain a greater understanding of where we came from and what makes humans unique when it comes to behavior. 

  Dr. Wangarĩ Maathai  

Dr. Wangarĩ Maathai was the first Black African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in environmental activism, democracy and human rights. 

Dr. Maathai’s most notable work is the Green Belt Movement, which empowered women to plant trees in their communities to improve their quality of life and local environments. The Green Belt Movement planted over 20 million trees in Kenya and has spread to several other African countries. 

Other honors Dr. Maathai has earned include being on the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global 500 Hall of Fame and being named one of the 100 heroines of the world.