Women in Science

womeninscienceRemarkable Creatures / Tracy Chevalier

When Mary Anning uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home on the English coast, she sets the religious fathers on edge, the townspeople to vicious gossip, and the scientific world alight. Luckily, Mary finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot, and in the struggle to be recognized in the wider world, Mary and Elizabeth discover that friendship is their greatest ally.

 

The Signature of all Things / Elizabeth Gilbert

Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this sweeping novel follows the fortunes of the Whittakers — a family of botanical explorers, led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker, a poor-born Englishman who makes his fortune in the South American quinine trade and swiftly becomes the richest man in the New World. His daughter, Alma, born into great luxury in 1800, ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. She is brilliant and insatiable, driven by an unquenchable sense of wonder, and also by a desperate need to understand the hidden mechanism behind all life.

Prodigal Summer: a novel / Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver’s fifth novel is a hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself. It weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives amid the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia. Over the course of one humid summer, this novel’s intriguing protagonists face disparate predicaments but find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place.

State of Wonder / Ann Patchett

Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota-based pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug. Nothing about the assignment is easy : not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marisa’s research partner Anders Eckman died before he could complete his mission. Plagued by trepidation, Marisa embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding Dr. Swenson as well as answers to troubling questions about her friend’s death, the state of company’s future, and her own past.

A Perfect Life : a novel / Danielle Steel

A mother and daughter confront challenges, cope with celebrity, and work through tragedy while maintaining an idyllic facade to the outside world.

 Chemistry : a novel / Weike Wang

Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research–and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there’s another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own. Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind. And for the first time, she’s confronted with a question she won’t find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want?

Silent Spring / Rachel Carson

Discusses the reckless annihilation of fish and birds by the use of pesticides and warns of the possible genetic effects on humans.

Lab Girl / Hope Jahren

A memoir by an award-winning paleo biologist traces her childhood in her father’s laboratory, her longtime relationship with a brilliant but wounded colleague and the remarkable discoveries they have made both in the lab and during extensive field research assignments.

The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks / Rebecca Skloot

Documents the story of how scientists took cells from an unsuspecting descendant of freed slaves and created a human cell line that has been kept alive indefinitely, enabling discoveries in such areas as cancer research, in vitro fertilization and gene mapping.

Hidden Figures : the American dream and the untold story of the Black women mathematicians who helped win the space race / Margot Lee Shetterly

Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation.

Gorillas in the Mist / Dian Fossey                                                                                                                                             

One of the most important books ever written about our connection to the natural world, GORILLAS IN THE MIST is the riveting account of Dian Fossey’s thirteen years in a remote African rain forest with the greatest of the great apes. Fossey’s extraordinary efforts to ensure the future of the rain forest and its remaining mountain gorillas are captured in her own words and in candid photographs of this fascinating endangered species. As only she could, Fossey combined her personal adventure story with groundbreaking scientific reporting in an unforgettable portrait of one of our closest primate relatives. Although Fossey’s work ended tragically in her murder, GORILLAS IN THE MIST remains an invaluable testament to one of the longest-running field studies of primates and reveals her undying passion for her subject.

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