Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1910-1994)

An English chemist whose determination of the structure of vitamin B12 brought her the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964.

Although born in Egypt, Hodgkin spent most of her childhood in England. She was fascinated by crystals from a young age and on her sixteenth birthday received a book about using X-rays to analyse crystals which greatly inspired her.

On graduating from Oxford in 1932, Hodgkin took a job working on X-ray crystallography, a technique used to identify the structure of molecules, at the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge, and later back at Oxford, she tended to choose challenging, often groundbreaking projects. In 1946 she had her first major success when she revealed the structure of penicillin. Ten years later she announced the structure of vitamin B12, a project which had taken more than eight years to complete. Later she carried out research into the structure of insulin.

A committed socialist, Hodgkin was actively involved in various organisations promoting peace including the League of Nations and Science for Peace. She was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1987.