The Society of Biology celebrated the eminent and sometimes unsung heroes of biology by unveiling ten blue plaques across the UK during February and March 2015.
Dr Mark Downs FSB, chief executive of the Society of Biology said:
“We have a great heritage of scientific discovery and an exciting future, but the biologists who have contributed to our understanding of the world are not always given the appreciation they deserve. We are delighted to be giving these biologists the recognition awarded to other great historical figures through Biology: Changing the World.
"The project is also a celebration of biology and biologists today. The life sciences will be essential for solving the problems of the 21st Century such as food security and antibiotic resistance. By highlighting our great biology heritage we hope to inspire the next generation.”
Sunday 22 February
One of the first women to be elected Fellow of the Royal Society and founder of the Society for General Microbiology. Sir John Skehel, vice president of the Royal Society, made a short speech where she grew up, now Mitchams Agricultural Machinery Ltd in Cambridge.
Wednesday 25 February
Dolly the sheep
Sir Ian Wilmut, lead researcher on the Dolly project, made a short speech at the Roslin Institute, where Dolly was born.
Thursday 26 February
Sir Richard Owen
Controversial opponent of Darwin, inventor of the name ‘dinosaur’ and founder of the Natural History Museum, London. Dr David Williams, from the Natural History Museum, made a short speech Owen’s old school, Lancaster Royal Grammar.
Monday 2 March
Dame Honor Fell
Pioneered the study of living cells and developed the organ culture method. Her most significant work was on the immune system and its role in rheumatoid arthritis. Kate Beckingham, a former PhD student of Dame Honor, spoke at Wychwood School in Oxford where Fell studied.
Wednesday 4 March
Sir Alan Hodgkin and Sir Andrew Huxley
Nobel prize winners for discovering how nerve cells transmit signals – through experimentation on giant squid. Professor Colin Brownlee, director of the MBA, made a short speech at the Marine Biological Association in Devon, where Hodgkin and Huxley worked before and after WWII.
Saturday 7 March
Robin Sanger, the son of Fred, spoke at 252 Hills Road, Cambridge, where his father lived and won two Nobel Prizes for work on DNA sequencing.
Thursday 12 March
Used X-ray crystallography to reveal the molecular ‘skeletons’ of penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin. Professor Sir Tom Blundell who worked with Dorothy Hodgkin in the 1960s spoke at the John Leman Grammar School, Suffolk.
Friday 13 March
Steptoe, Edwards and Purdy
Jointly developed IVF, leading to the world's first ‘test-tube baby', Louise Brown – a letter from Louise was read at the ceremony. Professor Andrew Steptoe, the son of Patrick Steptoe, made a short speech at Dr Kershaw's Hospice, Oldham, where the clinic used to be held.
Saturday 14 March
Evolutionary biologist whose mathematical work on genetics was critical to the acceptance of natural selection. Douglas Kell, professor of bioanalytical science at The University of Manchester, spoke at Dragon School, Oxford, which Haldane attended as a child.
Saturday 21 March
Sir Anthony Carlisle
Co-discoverer electrolysis and possible inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Richard Spencer, head of science at Middlesbrough College and one of the shortlisted candidates for a ‘Global Teacher' award, made a short speech in Chapel Gardens, Stillington, where Carlisle grew up.
The Biology: Changing the World project of the Society of Biology was developed in partnership with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Professor Jackie Hunter, chief executive of the BBSRC, said:
“I’m delighted that BBSRC has been involved with this scheme to raise the profile of unsung heroes of bioscience who have changed the world with their contributions. We hope that these plaques will spark curiosity and help inspire new generations to get involved in the biosciences, which will continue to change the world and help us meet the challenges of the future.”