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Lost Women of Science Profile

Lost Women of Science

English, Sciences, 6 seasons, 81 episodes, 1 day, 10 hours, 27 minutes
About
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.
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Lost Women of Science Conversations: The Exceptions

Dr. Nancy Hopkins, a molecular biologist who made major discoveries in cancer genetics, became an unlikely activist in her early fifties. She had always believed that if you did great science, you would get the recognition you deserved. But after years of humiliations — being snubbed for promotions and realizing the women's labs were smaller than those of their male counterparts — she finally woke up to the fact that her beloved MIT did not value women scientists. So measuring tape in hand, she collected the data to prove her point. In The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science, Kate Zernike tells Nancy's story, which led to MIT’s historic admission of discrimination against its female scientists in 1999. Host Julianna LeMieux talks with Kate and Nancy about the journey.
7/11/202434 minutes, 59 seconds
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Chemistry Professor and Crime Buster: The Remarkable Life of Mary Louisa Willard

 “The only time I ever saw something that I thought was abnormal…there was a human arm in the refrigerator,” said J. Peter Willard about his aunt, Mary Louisa Willard. Otherwise, he insisted, she was just “very normal.” But Mary Louisa Willard, a chemistry professor at Pennsylvania State University in the late 1920s, left a strong impression on most people, to say the least. Her hometown of State College, Pennsylvania, knew her for stopping traffic in her pink Cadillac to chat with friends and for throwing birthday bashes for her beloved cocker spaniels. Police around the world knew her for her side hustle: using chemistry to help solve crimes.
6/27/202430 minutes, 45 seconds
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Lost Women of Science Conversations: Wild By Design

When Laura J. Martin decided to write a history of ecological restoration, she didn’t think she would have to go back further than the 1980s to uncover its beginnings. What she found, however, deep in the archives, was evidence of a network of early female botanists from the turn of the last century who had been written out of history. Wild by Design: The Rise of Ecological Restoration sets the record straight. It tells the stories of Eloise Butler, Edith Roberts and the wild and wonderful gardens they planted and studied. 
6/13/202426 minutes, 52 seconds
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Revisiting The Pathologist in the Basement: Episode 4 Breakfast in the Snow

In our final episode, we explore Dorothy Andersen’s legacy — what she left behind and how her work has lived on since her death. Describing her mentor’s influence on her life and career, Dr. Celia Ores gives us a rare look at what Dr. Andersen was really like. We then turn to researchers, physicians, and patients, who fill us in on the many areas of progress that have grown out of Dr. Andersen’s work. These major developments include the discovery of the cystic fibrosis gene, the tremendous impact of the drug Trikafta, and the lifesaving potential of gene editing techniques. We end the episode with an update on the effect Trikafta has had on the lives of many CF patients, who can now expect to live a normal life. 
5/30/202442 minutes, 55 seconds
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Revisiting the Pathologist in the Basement: Episode 3 The Case of the Missing Portrait

The missing portrait of Dr. Andersen takes us on a journey into the perils of memorialization and who gets to be remembered. Dr. John Scott Baird, Dorothy Andersen’s biographer, looks for the portrait, and Drs. Nientara Anderson and Lizzy Fitzsousa, former medical students at Yale University, explain how “dude walls” — the paintings of male scientists that line institutional walls — can have an insidious effect on those who walk past them every day. And we go back to Columbia University to give you an update on the hunt for the missing portrait.
5/23/202429 minutes, 7 seconds
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Revisiting the Pathologist in the Basement: Episode 2 The Matilda Effect

Our associate producer, Sophie McNulty, rummages through boxes in a Connecticut basement, looking for clues to Dorothy Andersen’s life story. Pediatric critical care physician Dr. John Scott Baird, who published a biography of Dorothy Andersen in 2021, suggests we take a second look at the conventional wisdom surrounding the evolution of cystic fibrosis research in the 1950s. And in this updated episode, we interview science historian Margaret Rossiter, who coined the term “Matilda Effect” to describe how credit for work done by female scientists too often goes to their male colleagues. We examine how this affected Dorothy Andersen and her groundbreaking research into cystic fibrosis.
5/16/202444 minutes, 20 seconds
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Revisiting the Pathologist in the Basement

A few important things have happened in the three years since we first aired The Pathologist in the Basement, the story of Dr. Dorothy Andersen, the first to identify cystic fibrosis. It’s safe to say that Dr. Anderson is now a little less lost. In Episode 1, Dr. Andersen sleuths her way to the discovery of cystic fibrosis, a fatal disease that affects the lungs, the pancreas, and a host of other organs. So, who was Dorothy Andersen, and how did she come to make this seminal medical contribution?
5/9/202431 minutes, 7 seconds
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Lost Women of Science Conversations: Mathematics for Ladies

When poet Jessy Randall started researching the lives of female scientists she became angry. And we certainly can relate here at Lost Women of Science. So many women made important discoveries but received little recognition. In this episode of Lost Women of Science Conversations, Randall talks to Carol Sutton Lewis about Mathematics for Ladies: Poems on Women in Science, the collection of poems born of that anger. They discuss what it means to be the first in a field, the ethics of poetic license, and the importance of female role models in STEM. Randall’s poems are about some of the women we’ve featured in our podcast, including the first Black female doctor, Rebecca Lee Crumpler, and the physicist Lise Meitner.
5/2/202426 minutes, 4 seconds
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Elizabeth Bates and the Search for the Roots of Human Language

“We were each put on earth to torment the other,” says cognitive scientist Steven Pinker of Elizabeth Bates, a psychologist who challenged the prevailing theory about how humans acquire language. Bates believed that language emerges from interactions between our brains and our environments, and that we do not have an innate language capacity. To many, that sounds like an innocuous statement. But in making these claims, Bates challenged formidable linguists like Pinker and Noam Chomsky, placing herself at the center of a heated debate that remains unresolved half a century later.
4/25/202437 minutes, 14 seconds
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The Theoretical Physicist Who Worked With J. Robert Oppenheimer at the Dawn of the Nuclear Age

Melba Phillips, who grew up on a farm in Indiana at the turn of the 20th century, was one of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s first graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley. Together they discovered the Oppenheimer-Phillips Process, which explained a particular kind of nuclear reaction. In this episode, we explain what that is, with a little help from generative AI. Phillips did not follow Oppenheimer to Los Alamos, and was vocal in her opposition to nuclear weapons. During the McCarthy era, she lost her teaching job, and did not return to academia until 1957. In 1962, then in her mid-fifties, she finally became a full professor at the University of Chicago.
4/18/202430 minutes, 33 seconds
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Best Of: The Highest of All Ceilings, Astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was in her early 20s when she figured out what the stars are made of. Both she and her groundbreaking findings were ahead of their time. Continuing the legacy of women working at the Harvard College Observatory, Cecilia charted the way for a generation of female astronomers to come. This Best Of episode of Lost Women of Science follows Cecilia’s journey of discovery, journals her drive and determination against all odds, and takes you to the Harvard College Observatory itself to walk in Cecilia’s footsteps.
4/11/202429 minutes, 49 seconds
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The Victorian Woman Who Chased Eclipses

The year is 1897 and Annie Maunder, an amateur astronomer, is boarding a steamship bound for India from England. Her goal: to photograph a total solar eclipse. Like the many people whose gaze will turn upwards in North America on April 8, Maunder was fascinated by the secrets of the sun and was determined to travel the globe and unlock them. She understood that the few minutes of darkness during a solar eclipse presented a special opportunity to explore the nature of the sun. Her observations led to our greater understanding of how the sun affects the earth, but like so many early female scientists, her contributions and achievements have been forgotten.
4/4/202430 minutes, 31 seconds
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Lost Women of Science Conversations: Mischievous Creatures

In this episode of Lost Women of Science Conversations, Michelle Nijhuis talks to historian Catherine McNeur about how she rediscovered the lives and work of Elizabeth and Margaretta Morris, two natural scientists who made significant contributions to botany and entomology in the mid-19th Century. Elizabeth collected rare plant species and sent them to institutions around the world, and Margaretta not only discovered new insects but also helped farmers combat the pests that were devastating their fields. Nevertheless, by both design and accident, these women were lost to history. McNeur tells us how that happened and how, piece by piece, she recovered their stories.
3/28/202425 minutes, 39 seconds
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The Cognitive Scientist Who Unraveled the Mysteries of Language

While working at the Salk Institute in California, Ursula Bellugi discovered that sign language was made up of specific building blocks that were assembled following strict rules, much like in spoken language. Her subsequent discoveries about the complexities of sign language led both to linguistic breakthroughs and to changes in the way deaf people felt about signing. Bellugi demonstrated that sign language is as rich and complex as any spoken language. Her work deepened our understanding of what it means to communicate as humans.
3/21/202416 minutes, 32 seconds
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How Lilian Bland Built Herself A Plane

“Hoots and derision, which did not worry me at all,” Lilian Bland wrote, describing her visit to an airshow in Blackpool, England in 1909. She’d been telling everyone there that she intended to build and fly her own airplane. They were unimpressed. Lilian was undeterred. She built a DIY plane of bamboo, wood, and fabric, with a bicycle handlebar for steering and an engine she carried from England back to her home in Ireland. But would the Mayfly, as she called it, fly?
3/7/202439 minutes, 15 seconds
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Lost Women of Science Conversations: The Black Angels

In the first of a new series we’re calling Lost Women of Science Conversations—and a fitting choice for Black History Month—we talk to Maria Smilios, author of a new book that tells the story of Black nurses who were lured from the Jim Crow South to work at a tuberculosis (TB) hospital called Sea View on Staten Island, N.Y. Facing unsanitary conditions and racial prejudice, these “Black Angels” cared for TB patients for decades before a cure that they helped develop was found. It’s a story of bravery and dedication that Smilios pieced together from oral histories and medical records because there were no archives that described these nurses’ work.
2/29/202427 minutes, 39 seconds
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The Industrial Designer Behind the N95 Mask

Sara Little Turnbull was a force in the world of material science and industrial design. It’s safe to say most people will have used something that started life on her drawing board, but few will know her name. She worked with engineered fabrics at 3M, designing a moldable bra cup that inspired the design of the N95 mask. Later 3M disputed her role in coming up with the mask. She also worked on clear glass cooktop development, the early microwave, storage systems, and many other products.
2/15/202412 minutes, 41 seconds
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The Universe in Radio Vision

The Australian physicist Ruby Payne-Scott helped lay the groundwork for a whole new kind of astronomy: radio astronomy. By scanning the skies for radio waves instead of the light waves we can see with our eyes, Ruby and her colleagues opened a window into the universe and transformed the way we explore it. But to keep her job as a woman working for the Australian government in the 1940s, Ruby had to keep a pretty big secret.
2/8/202428 minutes, 30 seconds
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From Our Inbox: Forgotten Electrical Engineer’s Work Paved the Way for Radar Technology

Sallie Pero Mead was first hired at AT&T in 1915 as a “computer”—a human calculator—shortly after completing her master’s degree in mathematics at Columbia University. Before long she started working on the company’s transmission engineering team as both a mathematician and an electrical engineer. She and her team developed and tested hollow metal tubes used as waveguides: structures that confine and direct electromagnetic waves. In 1933 they discovered a new way that hyperfrequency waves could propagate down these tubes, and this made radar technology possible—just in time for use in World War II.
2/1/202415 minutes, 18 seconds
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Best of: A Complicated Woman, Leona Zacharias

Scientist Leona Zacharias was a rare woman. She graduated from Barnard College in 1927 with a degree in biology, followed by a Ph.D. from Columbia University. But throughout her career she labored behind men with loftier titles who got the bulk of the credit. In the 1940s, when premature babies born with healthy eyes were going blind, Dr. Zacharias was part of the team that worked to root out the cause. In this best of Lost Women of Science episode, host Katie Hafner visits the archives at M.I.T. and The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston to try to understand Dr. Zacharias’s role in rooting out the cause. For host Katie Hafner, it's personal: Leona Zacharias was her grandmother.
1/25/202437 minutes, 15 seconds
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From Our Inbox: Vera Peters - The Doctor Who Helped Spare Women From Radical Mastectomy

Vera Peters began her career studying treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. She used techniques that had seen positive outcomes on Hodgkin’s to treat breast cancer patients, and she discovered a treatment that was equally effective and much less invasive than the radical mastectomy, saving hundreds of thousands of women from that life-altering surgery.
1/11/202412 minutes, 32 seconds
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Adventures of a Bone Hunter

Annie Montague Alexander was an adventurer, amateur paleontologist, and the founding benefactor of two venerated museums at UC Berkeley - the UC Museum of Paleontology and the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. She was born in 1867, the daughter of a wealthy sugar baron, but she never quite fit in with her high society peers. Instead, Annie created for herself a grand life out of doors, away from the constraints of the era: she funded expeditions up and down the West Coast, hunting fossils. And sometimes she wore pants! But there was a catch. Annie always had to be accompanied by a female chaperone, as it was considered unseemly for a woman to travel surrounded only by men. Luckily, this worked out well for Annie: One of those female chaperones would become her life partner. For show notes and transcript, visit lostwomenofscience.org
1/4/202432 minutes, 27 seconds
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Emma Unson Rotor: The Filipina Physicist Who Helped Develop a Top Secret Weapon

Emma Unson Rotor took leave from her job as a math teacher in the Philippines to study physics at Johns Hopkins University in 1941. Her plans were disrupted when the Imperial Japanese Army invaded and occupied the Philippines. Unable to access her Philippine government scholarship to attend Johns Hopkins, she joined the Ordnance Development Division at the National Bureau of Standards. It was here that she did groundbreaking research on the proximity fuze, the “world’s first ‘smart’ weapon,” in the words of physicist Frank Belknap Baldwin, who also helped develop the technology. 
12/14/202320 minutes, 5 seconds
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Flapper of the South Seas: A Young Margaret Mead Travels To The South Seas

In 1925, a young anthropologist named Margaret Mead traveled to Samoa to explore the impact of cultural factors on adolescent development. In her subsequent book Coming of Age in Samoa, Mead described teenagers who were free to explore and express their sexuality. The book struck a chord with readers in the U.S., became a bestseller, and Mead skyrocketed to fame. But what were her actual methods and motivations? This episode traces Mead’s legendary nine-month stay in the South Pacific.
12/7/202326 minutes, 17 seconds
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The Devastating Logic of Christine Ladd-Franklin

Christine Ladd-Franklin is best known for her theory of the evolution of color vision, but her research spanned math, symbolic logic, philosophy, biology, and psychology. Born in Connecticut in 1847, she was clever, sharp-tongued, and never shied away from a battle of wits. When she decided to go to college instead of pursuing a marriage, she convinced her skeptical grandmother by pointing to statistics: there was an excess of women in New England, so a husband would be hard to find; she’d better get an education instead. “Grandma succumbed,” she wrote in her diary. When a man didn't give her credit for her “antilogism,” the core construct in her system of deductive reasoning, she took him to task in print, taking time to praise the beauty of her own concepts. And when Johns Hopkins University attempted to grant Ladd-Franklin an honorary PhD in 1926, she insisted that they grant her the one she'd already earned — after all, she’d completed her dissertation there, without official recognition, more than 40 years earlier. Johns Hopkins succumbed.
11/30/202327 minutes, 47 seconds
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Best Of: 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. Named for the science writer, Ann Finkbeiner, the Finkbeiner Test is a checklist for writing profiles of female scientists without being sexist. It includes rules like not mentioning her husband’s job, or her childcare arrangements, or how she was the “first woman to…”—all rules we break regularly on this show. In this episode, Katie Hafner talks to Christie Aschwanden, the science writer who created the test, and Ann Finkbeiner, who inspired it, to find out how they came up with these rules, and to see if there might be hope yet for our series. She reports her findings to Carol Sutton Lewis, who has a whole other set of rules for telling these stories.
11/23/202321 minutes, 59 seconds
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From Our Inbox: Mária Telkes, The Biophysicist Who Harnessed Solar Power

Today we tell the story of Mária Telkes, one of the developers of solar thermal storage systems, who was so dedicated to the world of solar energy that while she was working at MIT, she earned the nickname: The Sun Queen. Over her lifetime, she registered more than 20 patents, nearly all related to harnessing the power of the sun. Her inventions included an oven, a desalination device, and one of the first solar-heated houses in 1948: the Dover Sun House. We heard about Mária Telkes from Erin Twamley, a children's book author who shares the stories, careers, and the superpowers of everyday women. She said she would love Dr. Mária Telkes to be in every fifth grade classroom to inspire young people.
11/16/202311 minutes, 14 seconds
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The Woman Who Demonstrated the Greenhouse Effect

In 1856, decades before the term “greenhouse gas” was coined, Eunice Newton Foote demonstrated the greenhouse effect in her home laboratory. She placed a glass cylinder full of carbon dioxide in the sun, and found that it heated up much faster than a cylinder of ordinary air. Her conclusion: more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere results in a warmer planet. Several years later, a British scientist named John Tyndall conducted a far more complicated experiment that demonstrated the same effect and revealed how it worked. Today, he’s widely known as the man who discovered the greenhouse gas effect. There’s even a crater on the moon named for him! Eunice Newton Foote, meanwhile, was lost to history—until an amateur historian stumbled on her story.
11/9/202331 minutes, 26 seconds
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Dr. Rebecca Crumpler, America's First Black Female Public Health Pioneer

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, born in 1831, was the first African American female medical doctor in the U.S. and is considered the first Black person to publish a medical book. In it, Dr. Crumpler lays out best practices for good health with a focus on women and children. She writes that she was inspired by her aunt, a community healer and midwife, who raised her in Pennsylvania. In 1864, during the Civil War, Rebecca graduated from the New England Female Medical College, the world’s first medical school for women and the founding institution of what is now the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine. The following year, in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War, she traveled to Virginia to treat refugees. Many women and children, suddenly freed from bondage, were dying. She worked to dispel the myth that recently freed slaves were spreading disease, rightly pointing instead to poor living conditions. There are no known photos of Rebecca Crumpler, but a Boston newspaper article describes her in her 60s as “tall and straight, with light brown skin and gray hair”. Rebecca Crumpler was ahead of her time, promoting preventive medicine, and she paved the way for women of color in the field of public health.
11/2/202334 minutes, 46 seconds
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Flemmie Kittrell and the Preschool Experiment

In the 1960s, a Black home economist at Howard University recruited kids for an experimental preschool program. All were Black and lived in poor neighborhoods around campus. Flemmie Kittrell had grown up poor herself, just two generations removed from slavery, and she’d seen firsthand the effects of poverty. While Flemmie earned a PhD from Cornell, most of her siblings didn’t make it to college. One of her sisters died at just 22 years old of malnutrition. And it was the combination of these experiences that drove Flemmie to apply her academic training to help improve the lives of people in her community. In the early 1960s, Flemmie decided to see what would happen if you gave poor kids a boost early in life, in the form of a really great preschool. Every day for two years, parents would get free childcare, and their kids would get comprehensive care for body and mind—with plenty of nutritious food, fun activities, and hugs. What kind of difference would that make? And would it matter later on?
10/26/202336 minutes, 35 seconds
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From Our Inbox: A Microbe Hunter in Oregon Fights the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Harriet Jane Lawrence was one of the first female pathologists in the U.S. In the early 1900s she worked in Portland, Oregon, where she hunted microbes and developed vaccines and serum therapies with the help of 200 guinea pigs that she kept in her garage. Her work on a vaccine during the 1918 influenza pandemic earned her presidential recognition and has had a lasting impact on medicine.
10/19/202311 minutes, 47 seconds
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The English Lit Major Who Cracked Nazi Codes

Known as “America’s first female cryptanalyst,” Elizebeth Smith Friedman was a master codebreaker who played a pivotal role in both world wars, but for many years, no one knew what she had done—not even her own family. Elizebeth didn’t set out to be a codebreaker. In 1917, she was a 23-year-old English lit major, looking for an interesting job. That all changed when an eccentric millionaire whisked her off to his lavish country estate and recruited her to work on his passion project: finding the secret codes in Shakespeare’s plays. Elizabeth scoured the texts alongside a tiny team of self-taught codebreakers. No hidden messages surfaced. But soon, the U.S. government came knocking with a slightly higher priority mission. Perhaps her greatest coup was when she uncovered a Nazi spy ring in North America during World War II. J. Edgar Hoover took credit on behalf of the FBI, while Friedman signed an NDA, never speaking of her achievements, and fell into obscurity. Records of what she had done were found in the National Archives annex in College Park, Maryland.
10/12/202335 minutes, 19 seconds
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Who was Christine Essenberg? A remarkable zoologist almost lost to history

Christine Essenberg had an unusual life and an unusual career trajectory. She was married, then divorced, and earned her PhD in zoology from University of California, Berkeley at age 41. She went on to become one of the early researchers at what is now The Scripps Institution of Oceanography. We know the story of Christine Essenberg only because of a serendipitous find. Host Katie Hafner, searching in an archive jammed with the papers of male scientists, came across a slim folder, "Folder 29", in the back of a box at UC San Diego Special Collections & Archives. Just eight pages as a jumping-off point to flesh out a life, which raises the question: How many other unknown women scientists are out there, hidden away in boxes? This is the story of Christine Essenberg's own journey from researcher to teacher. It’s the first discovery of what we’re calling The Folder 29 Project, a research initiative to uncover the work of lost women of science, hidden in the archives of universities across the country.
10/5/202329 minutes, 59 seconds
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Dr. Sarah Loguen Fraser, an ex-slave’s daughter, becomes a celebrated doctor

Born in 1850, Sarah Loguen found her calling as a child, when she helped her parents and Harriet Tubman bandage the leg of an injured person escaping slavery. When the Civil War ended and Reconstruction opened up opportunities for African Americans, Loguen became one of the first Black women to earn a medical license. But quickly, racist Jim Crow laws prevailed. At the urging of family friend Frederick Douglass, Loguen married and, with her new husband, set sail for the Dominican Republic where more was possible for a person of color. This is her story. 
9/28/202331 minutes, 52 seconds
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A Flair for Efficiency: The Woman Who Redesigned the American Kitchen

In the late 1920s, Lillian Gilbreth enlisted her children — she had 11— in an experiment: bake a strawberry shortcake in record time. Kitchens at the time tended to have haphazard configurations—pots and pans could be at one end of the kitchen, the stove in another, and the utensils in another room altogether—but Lillian figured that with a well-designed kitchen, she could slash baking time dramatically and make cooks’ lives easier. And if anyone was going to hack the kitchen, Lillian Gilbreth was the woman for the job. Lillian and her late husband, Frank, were absolute fiends for efficiency. They’d used the study of “time and motion” to dissect the activities of factory and office workers, and had made a business of optimizing efficiency in the workplace. Now widowed, Lillian Gilbreth, was set to tackle efficiency in the home when their clients would continue working with her and the business failed. Her innovations—she’s widely credited with inventing the pedal trash can and refrigerator door shelves—live with us to this day.
9/21/202334 minutes, 35 seconds
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Why Did Lise Meitner Never Receive the Nobel Prize for Splitting the Atom?: Part 2

We continue the story of Jewish physicist Lise Meitner, the first person to understand that the atom had been split. This is the second in a two-part series featuring new letters from and to Lise Meitner translated by author Marissa Moss, author of The Woman who Split the Atom: The Life of Lise Meitner (2022). The letters show the fraught and complex relationship between Otto Hahn and Meitner and the role that antisemitism played in the decision to give the Nobel Prize in 1944 to Hahn and not Meitner. After the discovery of nuclear fission, Meitner grappled with its implication: the advent of nuclear weapons and who would get credit for the discovery of nuclear fission. This would lead to a breakdown of Meitner and Hahn’s decades-long scientific collaboration. Meitner, who had fled Germany because of the Nazis, was horrified at the thought of an atomic bomb. She also faulted Hahn for not speaking out about Nazi atrocities, and questioned his character, though she remained loyal to him to the end. It was their working relationship that defined her life.
9/14/202326 minutes, 21 seconds
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Why Did Lise Meitner Never Receive the Nobel Prize for Splitting the Atom?

New translations of hundreds of letters explain, in a two-part episode of Lost Women of Science, why physicist Lise Meitner was not awarded the Nobel Prize in 1944 for splitting the atom. Instead, it was given to her long-time collaborator, chemist Otto Hahn.  Lise Meitner was born in Vienna in November of 1878 and moved to Berlin before the first World War where she started work with Hahn. When Marissa Moss came to research her biography of Meitner, The Woman who Split the Atom: The Life of Lise Meitner (2022), she found thousands of her letters in the Cambridge University archive, many of which had never been translated. In this episode we're diving into one particularly illuminating aspect of Meitner's story: her letters with Hahn, which reveal not only that it was Meitner who discovered nuclear fission, when she interpreted experiments that Hahn could not understand, but also her fraught relationship with Hahn. She went to great lengths through her letters to understand his refusal to give her credit for her work before and after the 1944 Nobel Prize was awarded. This first episode takes us up to the end of World War Two.
9/7/202326 minutes, 17 seconds