Celebrating Her Genius
The Brilliant Women Who Shaped Modern Technology
Rosalind. Nellie. Hedy. These are the names of a few of the brilliant people who have shaped modern technology. Their stories aren’t often told, but their achievements are felt around the world every day—in our homes and on the farms that grow our food with incredible productivity. Behind many of humankind’s greatest discoveries, there is a heroine.
Rosalind Franklin’s work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA in the early 1950s led to the discovery of the DNA double helix. She also conducted groundbreaking work on the molecular structure of viruses. Her research on DNA and viruses has influenced some of the innovations in today’s agricultural genetics labs.
Nellie M. Payne was an American entomologist and agricultural chemist. Her doctoral research in invertebrate zoology focused on insect responses to cold temperatures, ultimately helped reduce food loss from insect infestations. She joined American Cyanamid as a researcher in 1937 and shared a patent on an insecticide with fellow researcher Walter Ericks in 1942. She later received a patent as the sole inventor on a second insecticide in 1949.
Alongside composer George Antheil, Hedy Lamarr developed a radio guidance system to defeat the threat of jamming by Axis powers during World War II. This system’s spread spectrum and frequency hopping technologies are the cornerstones of today’s Wi-Fi, CDMA and Bluetooth technology.
These women are among the many people who have invented tools and obtained insights that continue to evolve modern agriculture. Their genius and perseverance should inspire everyone to believe that their ideas can be among the world’s greatest.