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HelixTalk Episode #123 - Dr. Rosalind Franklin: Beyond Photo 51

Date posted: December 15, 2020, 6:00 am

In this episode, we interview the niece of Dr. Rosalind Franklin, the namesake of our university, who is also named Rosalind Franklin. As part of the university’s centennial celebration of Dr. Franklin, we discuss her amazing life and scientific achievements and reflect on how her story can be applied to our own lives.


Key Concepts

  • Dr. Rosalind Franklin’s life goes far beyond her work with the structure of DNA.  Other major scientific achievements included her work on coal (which led to improvements in gas mask technology) as well as the structure of viruses.
  • Much of the controversy surrounding Dr. Franklin’s research with DNA stemmed from a lack of communication and a lapse in leadership.  This story serves as an important example of how good communication and leadership can make a pivotal difference in the outcome of a situation.
  • Many important lessons and philosophies can be garnered from Dr. Franklin’s life.  One powerful example is the concept that actions and achievements can have a “rippling” effect across multiple people over decades of time.  In the case of Dr. Franklin, her important work with DNA was pivotal in our understanding of the human genome, pharmacogenomics, and even the commercialization of genetic testing.


  1. Dr. Rosalind Franklin - Centennial Celebration. Available at: