These are the most important women in the history of science

By Esra Gurkan, for CNN

Updated 10:22 AM ET, Thu February 11, 2021
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Chinese-American physicist Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997) focused her research predominantly on the techniques of experimental physics and radioactivity. Her nicknames included the "First Lady of Physics," "Chinese Marie Curie" and "Madame Wu." Robert W. Kelley//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Polish-born French physicist Marie Curie (1867-1934) discovered polonium and radium. Her work led to the creation of X-rays -- a crucial component of modern-day medicine. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only woman to win this award in two categories: Physics and Chemistry. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
American Alice Hamilton (1869-1970) was a pioneer in the field of toxicology. She researched the effects of lead poison on factory workers, isolated a typhoid fever outbreak in 1902, and lent her expertise to help crack down on the sale of cocaine to children in Chicago. She was also the first female faculty member of Harvard Medical School. FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Austrian physicist Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was a key member of a small group of scientists who discovered nuclear fission. Notably, one of her colleagues and her long-time collaborator, Otto Hahn, was awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on nuclear fission. Meitner's exclusion has since been considered to be an error by the Nobel committee. Central Press/Getty Images
German embryologist Hilde Mangold (1898-1924), along with Hans Spemann, discovered the embryonic organizer. Their work led to further understanding of the pattern of embryo differentiation in all amphibians and formed the foundation for the field of experimental embryology. Mangold died young, but in 1935 Spemann was awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery. Getty Images
American marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was also an author. After WWII, she focused on warning the public about the long-term effects of misusing pesticides. Her book Silent Spring and other works challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. Getty Images
Italian neuroscientist Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012) was known for her work in neurobiology. Along with Stanley Cohen, she won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of nerve growth factor, a protein controlling growth and development. Prior to her death in 2012, she was the oldest living Nobel laureate and first ever to reach their 100th birthday. GIULIO NAPOLITANO/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
American-Armenian pioneer anaesthesiologist Virginia Apgar (1909-1974) developed the APGAR score (Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration), a well-known system to evaluate the health of newborn babies. The Apgar score came into general use throughout the United States and has since been adopted by numerous other countries. Bill Peters/Denver Post
U.S. biochemist Gertrude B. Elion (1918-1999) helped develop many drugs, including ones used to treat malaria, herpes, meningitis and leukemia. In 1988, Elion, together with George Hitchings and Sir James Black, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research and insight into the principles of drug treatments. Wellcome Library, London
American Jane C. Wright (1910-2013) was a physician who explored the relationship between patient and tissue culture response and developed chemotherapy as a viable treatment for cancer. She developed chemotherapy delivery methods by way of a catheter system and became the director of the Cancer Research Foundation at Harlem Hospital by age 33. National Library of Medicine
British chemist, crystallographer and biophysicist Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) was the first to hypothesize and show, through x-ray diffraction, the double helix structure of DNA. Her discovery laid the ground work for Francis Crick and James Watson's molecular model of DNA. The Nobel Prize can only be shared by three living scientists and so Franklin was barely acknowledged when it was awarded to Watson, Crick and Maurice Wilkins for the discovery of the double-helix in 1962. Vittorio Luzzati, National Portrait Gallery, London
American chemist Stephanie Kwolek (1923-2014) was awarded the DuPont Company's Lavoisier Medal for outstanding technical achievement in 1995. Her career at the company spanned over forty years. She is best known for inventing Kevlar, an immensely strong plastic that was first used as a replacement for steel reinforcing strips, in 1965. Courtesy Harry Kalish
British primatologist Dame Jane Goodall, 81, is best known for her long-term research on wild chimpanzees in Tanzania. She founded, the Jane Goodall Institute Research Center in Gombe National Park, which is the world's longest running continuous wildlife research project. She also started Roots & Shoots, the Institute's global environmental and humanitarian program for young people. MAYELA LOPEZ/Getty Images
Hong Kong Chinese and Canadian physician Margaret Chan OBE, 68, is Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). She began her career in public health with the Hong Kong Department of Health where she was appointed Director in 1994. Three years later, while in this role, she handled the first human outbreak of H5N1 Avian Influenza and in 2003 successfully combated severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Hong Kong. ALAIN GROSCLAUDE/AFP/Getty Images
American astrophysicist France A. Córdova, 68, is Director of the National Science Foundation. She rose to this position after working as a prominent researcher of X-ray and gamma ray sources stemming from her work on pulsars. She was the youngest and first female Chief Scientist at NASA from 1993 to 1996 and later went on to be awarded NASA's highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal. National Science Foundation
Italian particle physicist Fabiola Gianotti, 53, is the first female Director-General of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and led the institution during the recent discovery of the Higgs boson as part of the ATLAS experiment. Mike Struik
American neurobiologist Cornelia "Cori" Bargmann, 55, is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is known for her work on the behavior in C.elegans, or roundworms, which she used to characterize genes and neural pathways that allow the nervous system to generate variable behaviors. Her work led to her being elected into the National Academy of Sciences. Craig Barritt/Getty Images North America
American Nina Tandon, 36, is CEO and co-founder of EpiBone, the world's first company growing living human bones for skeletal reconstruction. She is also Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union and former Staff Associate Postdoctoral Researcher, at Columbia University. Nina Tandon, PhD, MBA
American Elizabeth Holmes, 32, is the world's youngest self-made female billionaire. She founded revolutionary blood diagnostics company, Theranos, which uses a prick of blood to get the same results as you would from an entire vial. Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunc