Scientists born in June

Susan Elizabeth Blow (June 7, 1843) was an American educator who opened the first public kindergarten in the United States. She followed the ideas of the German philosopher Friedrich Froebel who thought that children should be educated by self-activity and play and that the teachers should encourage self-expression through individual and group play. Within a year of opening her kindergarten, Susan Blow opened a training school for kindergarten teachers and made Missouri a focal point of early education in the country. She lectured widely in the Northeast including Teachers College at Columbia University and wrote several books on kindergarten education.

Frances Crick (June 8, 1916) is mainly remembered as one of the scientists that elucidated the three dimensional structure of DNA. He was a British physicist and a biologist, early in his career he worked out the general theory of x-ray diffraction by a helix, specifically the protein a-keratin. This knowledge helped him, when looking at Rosalind Franklin data of x-ray diffraction of DNA, to recognize that DNA was also a helix. In conjunction with James Watson they proposed the mechanism of DNA three-dimensional structure and form of replication in which one strand of DNA can be copy by reading the other strand. Crick was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology in 1962 in conjunction with James Watson and M. Wilkins. Crick and co-workers proposed the structure of small viruses, polyglycine, and collagen among other proteins. Later in his career he focused on biochemistry and genetics gear toward studying protein synthesis and the elucidation of genetic code.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau (June 11, 1910) was a French ocean explorer and engineer. He co-invented the Aqua-Lung to allow divers to move freely underwater, a small submarine for underwater surveillance, and underwater cameras. It was during the WWII war that he started to produce underwater films and from there he dedicated his time to oceanic research. His love for the ocean led him to star several organizations, under the Cousteau group, dedicated to marine exploration. Later in his career he produced several documentaries, movies, and wrote many books about the ocean and marine conservation. His great achievement was to popularize ocean research advocate for the conservation of marine environments.

James Clerk Maxwell (June 13, 1831) was a Scottish mathematician and a physicist. His many contributions influenced and allow other great scientist like Albert Einstein and Max Planck to develop ideas like the special theory of relativity and the quantum hypothesis. One of his great contributions was to use Michael Faraday’s observations to write those ideas in mathematical form producing his famous equations on electromagnetism. Based on this he constructed a mathematical model that allowed to infer that light behave as an electromagnetic wave. He exposed his theory in his masterpiece “Treatise on electricity and magnetism”. Maxwell also did research in color photography and the viscosity of gases. He was the first to use probability and statistics to describe the movement of gases, known as “The Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution”.

Barbara McClintock (June 16, 1902) was an American cytogeneticist. Earlier in her career she started to use histological techniques to map genes to the ten chromosomes in corn. During her investigations she discovered mobile genetic elements, transposable elements or ‘jumping genes” for which she received the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1983. She found that these transposable elements, controlling color, could change location and affect the gene expression of other genes. This is the basis of the different kernel color in corn. McClintock’s work, in the 1940s, was not appreciated by her male colleges. Eventually after the structure of DNA was solved and people corroborated her result by experimentation, her contributions were recognized and the noble prize awarded to her.

Paul Broca (June 28, 1824) was a brilliant French brain surgeon. He was the first person to locate the speech center of the brain. The Broca area is located toward the center of the frontal lobe in the left hemisphere of the brain. This area is used when we speak or read aloud, it is critical for the ability to form and articulate words. Broca discovered that lesions in the left frontal lobe, but not the right side, interfere with the ability to speak clearly even though the person can understand speech.