Rosalind Franklin was born in July of 1920.
She graduated with a Ph. D. from Cambridge University in 1945.
In 1951 she went to work as a research associate for John Randall at King’s College in London. A chemist by training, Franklin had established herself as a world expert in the structure of graphite and other carbon compounds.
In James Watson’s account of the discovery of the structure of DNA, Rosalind Franklin was depicted inaccurately as an underlining of Maurice Wilkins at King’s College.
Franklin had discovered that DNA could crystallize into two different forms, an A form & B form. John Randal gave Franklin the A form & Wilkins the B form, assigning them each the task of elucidating their molecular structure.
Randall presented Franklin’s findings & unpublished conclusions at a routine seminar. Aspects of her results were informally communicated to Watson & Crick by Maurice Wilkins & Max Perutz, without her of John Randall’s knowledge.
Watson & Crick were the ones who put together all the pieces of the puzzle from a variety of sources, including Franklin’s results, to build their ultimately correct & complete description of DNA’s structure. Rosalind Franklin never knew that Watson & Crick had gotten access to her results. She appeared not to be bitter about their accomplishment.
Franklin moved on to work on an even more challenging problem: the structure of an entire virus, called the Tobacco mosaic Virus.
Rosalind Franklin died with cancer in April of 1958 at the age of 37. She died with a reputation around the world for her contributions to knowledge about the structure of carbon compounds and of viruses.