Kathleen Lonsdale (née Yardley)1903

Kathleen Lonsdale (née Yardley) 1903

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Born Kathleen Yardley in Newbridge in the civil parish of Oldconnell Co. Kildare on the 28th of January 1903, Lonsdale would go on to become a prominent figure in the world of science, particularly in the field of crystallography. Lonsdale's time in Ireland was short lived, as her family moved to Essex, England when she was just 5 years old. As a young girl, her interest in science and technology saw her move from her school to a boys' school in order to study mathematics and science. These were subjects that were not available in girls' schools at the time. Her 3rd level education consisted of a BSc from Bedford College for Women in 1922 and an MSc in physics from University College London in 1924. 

The same year as she graduated with her MSc, Lonsdale joied the crystallography research team at the Royal Institution. In 1927 she married Thomas Jackson Lonsdale, with whom she had 3 children. For 5 years (1929-1934) whilst raising her family, Lonsdale continued to work from home on her calculations. She returned to work at the Institution in 1934 and withing 2 years was awarded a DSc from University College London. The work which she is best known for involves her discovery of the structure of benzene. She was also involved in studying the synthesis of diamonds and using x-rays to study crystals. In 1949 she was appointed a profesor of chemistry and head of the department of crystallography at Univesity College London. She was to become the college's first tenured female professor. 

Kathleen Lonsdale died of cancer on April 1st 1971. Buildings named in Lonsdale's honour can be found at Univerist College London, Limerick University, and Dublin City University. 

Additional Information
Date of Birth 28th Jan 1903
Date of Death 1st Apr 1971


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  • A remarkable scientist and well regarded and honoured by her colleagues.But her connection with Ireland is only vicarious as is shown by her curriculum vitae.


    Wednesday 11th December 2019 11:53PM

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