Rosalyn Sussman Yalow was an American medical physicist, and a co-winner of the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (together with Roger Guillemin and Andrew Schally) for development of the radioimmunoassay (RIA) technique. She was the second woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize Physiology or Medicine after Gerty Cori. Born in Manhattan to Simon and Clara (née Zipper) Sussman, she attended Walton High School. Knowing how to type, she won a part-time position as secretary to Dr. Rudolf Schoenheimer, a leading biochemist at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. Not believing that any good graduate school would admit and provide financial support to a woman, she took a job as a secretary to Michael Heidelberger, another biochemist at Columbia, who hired her on the condition that she studied stenography. She graduated from Hunter College in January 1941. In mid-February of that aforementioned year she received an offer of a teaching assistantship in physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with the primary reason being that World War II commenced and many men went off to war and the university decided to offer scholarships for women rather than shut down. That summer she took two tuition-free physics courses under government auspices at New York University. At the University of Illinois, she was the only woman among the department’s 400 members, and the first since 1917. She married fellow student Aaron Yalow, the son of a rabbi, in June 1943. They had two children and kept a kosher home. Yalow earned her Ph.D in 1945. After graduating, Yalow joined the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital to help set up its radioisotope service. There she collaborated with Solomon Berson to develop radioimmunoassay (RIA). RIA is a radioisotope tracing technique that allows the measurement of tiny quantities of various biological substances in human blood as well as a multitude of other aqueous fluids. RIA testing relies on the creation of two reagents. One reagent is a molecule that is the product of covalently bonding a radioactive isotope atom with a molecule of the target. The second reagent is an antibody which specifically chemically reacts with the target substance. The measurement of target signal is done using both reagents. They are mixed with the fluid containing an unknown concentration of target to me measured. The radioactive atom supplies a signal that can be monitored. The target supplied from the unknown concentration solution displaces the radiolabelled target bond to the antibody. Originally used to study insulin levels in diabetes mellitus, the technique has since been applied to hundreds of other substances – including hormones, vitamins and enzymes – all too small to detect previously. Despite its huge commercial potential, Yalow and Berson refused to patent the method. In 1968, Yalow was appointed Research Professor in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, where she later became the Solomon Berson Distinguished Professor at Large.
Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell was an English writer, traveller, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist who explored, mapped, and became highly influential to British imperial policy-making due to her extensive travels in Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia. Along with T. E. Lawrence, Bell helped establish the Hashemite dynasties in what is today Jordan as well as in Iraq. She played a major role in establishing and helping administer the modern state of Iraq, utilizing her unique perspective from her travels and relations with tribal leaders throughout the Middle East. During her lifetime she was highly esteemed and trusted by British officials and given an immense amount of power for a woman at the time. She has also been described as “one of the few representatives of His Majesty’s Government remembered by the Arabs with anything resembling affection”.
Ernst Walter Mayr was one of the 20th century’s leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, historian of science, and naturalist. His work contributed to the conceptual revolution that led to the modern evolutionary synthesis of Mendelian genetics, systematics, and Darwinian evolution, and to the development of the biological species concept. Neither Charles Darwin nor anyone else in his time knew the answer to the species problem: how multiple species could evolve from a single common ancestor. Ernst Mayr approached the problem with a new definition for the concept of species. In his book Systematics and the Origin of Species (1942) he wrote that a species is not just a group of morphologically similar individuals, but a group that can breed only among themselves, excluding all others. When populations within a species become isolated by geography, feeding strategy, mate selection, or other means, they may start to differ from other populations through genetic drift and natural selection, and over time may evolve into new species. The most significant and rapid genetic reorganization occurs in extremely small populations that have been isolated (as on islands). His theory of peripatric speciation (a more precise form of allopatric speciation which he advanced), based on his work on birds, is still considered a leading mode of speciation, and was the theoretical underpinning for the theory of punctuated equilibrium, proposed by Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould. Mayr is sometimes credited with inventing modern philosophy of biology, particularly the part related to evolutionary biology, which he distinguished from physics due to its introduction of (natural) history into science.
Paul Berg is an American biochemist and professor emeritus at Stanford University. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1980, along with Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger. The award recognized their contributions to basic research involving nucleic acids. Berg received his undergraduate education at Penn State University, where he majored in biochemistry. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Case Western Reserve University in 1952. Berg worked as a professor at Washington University School of Medicine and Stanford University School of Medicine, in addition to serving as the director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine. In addition to the Nobel Prize, Berg was presented with the National Medal of Science in 1983 and the National Library of Medicine Medal in 1986.
Bruce Sterling Woodcock is an American computer and video games industry analyst, best known for his work on subscription tracking of massively multiplayer online games via his website MMOGCHART.COM. Woodcock was born in the small farming community of Sullivan, Missouri on June 20, 1970, the youngest of three children to Myron and Mary Woodcock. He graduated from Sullivan Senior High School in 1988, and then went on to Purdue University, studying physics, philosophy, and computer science. In 1989, he became involved in internet gaming on early MUDs, and in 1990, was briefly running two of the largest TinyMUDs of the time, TinyMUD Classic and Islandia. His original online handle was Sir Bruce Sterling, which was later shortened to Sir Bruce when he began posting on message boards. Leaving college early, he moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1991, where he began a career in information technology. In 1993, he moved to San Jose, California, where he subsequently worked as a system administrator at early ISP Netcom (USA), and then Network Appliance, eventually leaving in 1997 with $250,000 in stock options. He started to maintain a presence on the Yahoo! financial message boards as he closely tracked the performance of Network Appliance, helped the company’s fortunes, and built his own portfolio to $3 million. With the advent of the MMOGs, Chron X and Ultima Online in 1997, Woodcock became a player and beta-tester for this genre of game. He invested in and joined the Board of Directors for Playnet and their game World War II Online, and in August 2002, began his research, reporting, and tracking of MMOG subscription numbers, which has become a standard of reference both inside and outside the MMOG industry. In November 2004 his work was moved to its own dedicated website, MMOGCHART.COM. The site has not been updated since May 2008.
Lisa Randall is an American theoretical physicist and a leading expert on particle physics and cosmology. She works on several of the competing models of string theory in the quest to explain the fabric of the universe. Her most well known contribution to the field is the Randall-Sundrum model, first published in 1999 with Raman Sundrum. She was the first tenured woman in the Princeton University physics department and the first tenured female theoretical physicist at MIT and Harvard University. Randall was born in Queens in New York City. She is an alumna of Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics and graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1980, where she was a classmate of fellow physicist and science popularizer Brian Greene. She won first place in the 1980 Westinghouse Science Talent Search at the age of 18. Randall earned a BS from Harvard in 1983, and obtained her Ph.D. in particle physics in 1987 under the direction of Howard Georgi. She was made a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. Randall was featured in Newsweek magazine’s “Who’s Next” issue of January 2, 2006, as “one of the most promising theoretical physicists of her generation.”
John Forbes Nash, Jr. is an American mathematician whose works in game theory, differential geometry, and partial differential equations have provided insight into the forces that govern chance and events inside complex systems in daily life. His theories are used in market economics, computing, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, accounting, politics and military theory. Serving as a Senior Research Mathematician at Princeton University during the latter part of his life, he shared the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with game theorists Reinhard Selten and John Harsanyi. Nash is the subject of the Hollywood movie A Beautiful Mind. The film, loosely based on the biography of the same name, focuses on Nash’s mathematical genius and struggle with paranoid schizophrenia.