Women in science


A chara, – Dick Ahlstrom’s informative and interesting article on Ireland’s scientists finishes with the exhortation to “... have a few more more names for the next table quiz” (“Ireland’s stellar contributions go under the radar”, Science Analysis, March 7th).

I suggest , on this International Women’s Day, that we also remember Ireland’s female scientists.

Cork-born Agnes Clerke was a 19th-century award-winning expositor whose writings explained and promoted astronomy.

Dublin-born Phyllis Clinch was a botanist who cracked the enigma of potato diseases in the mid-20th century and went on to pave the way for effective procedures for controlling diseases that could decimate commercial crops by investigating viruses that affect them. She was the first woman professor of botany at UCD and the first woman to receive the Boyle Medal from the RDS.

Donegal-born Kay McNulty Mauchly Antonelli was a mathematical genius and one of a team of six women who programmed the world’s first general purpose electronic digital computer in the 1940s – the Eniac (electronic numerical integrator and computer). She also designed software for the later Binac and Univac computers.

Lurgan-born Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, astrophysicist, discovered pulsars. Pulsars help scientists to conduct unique experiments at the frontiers of modern physics. They are at the forefront of research on gravity and help test Einstein’s theory of relativity. She was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in 2018 (also previously awarded to Stephen Hawking). She has donated the $3 million prize money to help women, ethnic minority, and refugee students become physics researchers.

Now, there a few more names for a really good table quiz! – Is mise,