RE: Favorite NON-fiction  

Ruhlen, Rachel Louise (UMC-Student) RuhlenR at missouri.edu
Tue Jan 28 18:19:04 PST 2003

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Andrew Lias [mailto:anrwlias at hotmail.com] 
> Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 2:02 PM
> To: Ruhlen, Rachel Louise (UMC-Student); dragaera at dragaera.info
> Subject: RE: Favorite NON-fiction  
> > > Be that as it may, it was, in fact, Watson and Crick who 
> discovered 
> > > the actual structure of DNA, which is a double-helix and who,
> > > properly, deserve
> > > credit for that work.  This isn't to say that Franklins
> > > contributions are
> > > unfairly overlooked, but that is the nature of scientific 
> celebrity.
> >
> >I still have my textbook from that class. I will look that up when I 
> >get
> >home. I remember learning otherwise, but my memory is 
> frequently faulty. 
> >Like when I could not find my car last night...
> I'd appreciate that.  I'll tell you, flat out, though that if 
> your textbook 
> claims that she discovered that the structure was a 
> double-helix, then your 
> textbook is in error.  You can take a look at her actual 
> papers, if you 
> don't believe me. :-)

It turns out the textbook "Women Scientists in America: Struggles & Strategies to 1940" doesn't cover that, obviously because it only goes to 1940 but also the focus is on the "struggles & strategies" rather recognizing individual contributions that went unrecognized at the time. I looked at webpage (http://www.accessexcellence.org/AB/BC/Rosalind_Franklin.html) and I'm still puzzled because I specifically remember hearing something about someone stealing films from her desk, and the way it is described in this page doesn't indicate that at all. Chalk it up to yet another bit of misinformation in class. :)

> >I'm not concerned about her fate now. I'm concerned about my 
> daughter's
> >future.
> I would not disparage your concern.
> Just out of curiosity, and feel free to tell me to mind my 
> own business, 
> what are you doing to encourage her?  I ask because one of my 
> engineering 
> friends was actively *discouraged* by her own mother from persuing an 
> engineering degree.

The short answer is I'm involved in her education and she's involved in my work. She's got an awesome women scientist role-model: myself. :)

The long answer: She's 7 this year and occassionally gets to work in my lab for $1/hr. She doesn't just rack pipette tips, she helps with the mice, changing cages and plug-checking. (I won't go into gory details about what that is unless someone asks. I'll put it this way: she knows more about reproduction than most 7 year olds, even those who know the meaning of all the dirty words). She aspires to be an astronaut when she grows up and do experiments on mice in space. (I secretly hope she'll go into physics because I loved physics in college and nearly changed my major from biology to physics except I was within 2 semesters of graduating and decided I didn't love it an extra 2 years of college worth especially since my full-ride fellowship would expire. However, I don't want her to feel pressured to go in any particular direction so I'm carefully not saying anything about that.) Her favorite subjects at school are math and science and she's really good at math. She likes to show me her science experiments that she did in school and if feasible we'll repeat them at home, and add on sometimes, like trying to make baking soda fizz with something besides vinegar. I have to admit her teacher does the lion's share of the work; that's one reason she goes to a private school.

I plan to keep tabs on what she's learning at school and supplement occassionally, particularly about science history, which I agree tends to be neglected and when it is mentioned neglects females. These posts alone have shown up how woefully uninformed I am about my own field's history (not just Franklin), and I'm nearly at the end of graduate school.

But I'd be just as happy if she wants to be a musician, writer, plumber, whatever.

I'm curious what your science background is since you are so well-informed about Rosalind Franklin, among other topics?