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When Rosalind Franklin, Ph.D., focused an x-ray diffraction instrument on a DNA sample in 1952, the resulting image, widely known as Photo 51, was later used by James Watson, Ph.D., and Francis Crick, Ph.D., to help decipher the double helical stucture of the DNA molecule, which led to the two men receiving a Nobel Prize in 1953. Dr. Franklin won nothing for her work and died in 1958 at the age of 37 from uterine cancer.


Most biologists know the details surrounding the discovery of DNA’s structure and many believe a great disservice was done to Dr. Franklin by not acknowledging her critical contribution until years after the fact. Indeed, Dr. Franklin’s story was a major impetus for the founding of the Rosalind Franklin Society (www.rosalindfranklinsociety.org) in 2007 with the goal of recognizing and fostering the contributions made by women in the life sciences.”


Anna Ziegler’s play, Photograph 51, takes a close look at Dr. Franklin’s life in the lab and her interactions with her male colleagues.  The play won the STAGE International Script Competition Prize in 2008 as the best new play about science and technology.


GEN recently interviewed Ziegler about Photograph 51 and, more specifically, about Dr. Rosalind Franklin.

Anna Ziegler’s plays include Photograph 51, The Minotaur, An Incident, Dov and Ali, Variations on a Theme, BFF, and Life Science. Some of her plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, and her poetry has appeared in The Best American Poetry. Ziegler’s plays have been produced in New York, London, Los Angeles, and the Berkshires. Photograph 51, which recently finished a run in New York, opens next month at Theatre J in Washington DC, and Ziegler is currently adapting it for the screen in conjunction with Protozoa Pictures.



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