Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Most Abundant Elements in the Sun, Stars and Universe

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, linocut 9.25" x 12.5" on ivory kozo paper by Ele Willoughby 2019
This is a 9.25" x 12.5" (23.5 cm by 31.7 cm) 3-layer linocut print on ivory Japanese kozo (or mulberry paper) showing the great astrophysicist Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin in front of the sun with a solar absorption spectrum. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900-1979) was a trailblazer for women in astronomy and discovered that hydrogen and helium are the most common elements in the universe.

For the first quarter of twentieth century, astronomers believed that Earth and Sun were much the same, made of the same distribution of elements, differentiated only by temperature. Nuclear fusion, the source of solar energy had yet to be discovered, and scientists looked at the entire spectrum of light emitted to try and determine the nature of star stuff. Physicists were beginning to use spectroscopy to identify the elements of which things are made. It turns out that with stars, which are hot and full of excited atoms, rather than emission spectra, it is absorption spectra, like rainbows crossed with bar codes, which are the most useful. Light is emitted from stars at a broad range of frequencies (and those within the visible range we see as different colours), but there are specific stripes which are missing (or absorbed) because they exactly match the energy difference between two quantum mechanical states of their constituent atoms.  Each element has its own ‘bar code’ of absorption lines. The lines of common metals like silicon and carbon are seen in the sun’s absorption spectrum which lead scientists to think it star stuff was the same as Earth stuff.

Born in Wendover, England, in 1900, Cecilia Payne was one of three children raised by her mother Emma Leonora Helena (née Pertz) after the death of her father, barrister and historian Edward John Payne, when she was only four. She attended St. Paul’s Girls’ School and won a scholarship to Newnham College at Cambridge to read botany, physics and chemistry in 1919. She was disappointed by botany, but found phyics a "pure delight". The department at Cambridge at this time included such luminaries as J.J. Thomson, Rutherford, C.T.R. Wilson, Chadwick and Bohr. This marked the year a lecture changed her life. So impressed, she later wrote out the lecture word for word correctly, comparing it against his published text. She wrote, “My world had been so shaken that I experienced something very like a nervous breakdown.” It was no everyday lecture. She had gone to hear Sir Arthur Eddington’s account of his 1919 expedition to the island of Principe off the west coast of Africa to photograph stars with apparent positions near the sun during the solar eclipse. Eddington had produced the first experimental evidence supporting Einstein’s revolutionary General Theory of Relativity, which predicted that large masses like the sun would bend spacetime itself and that gravity would bend light changing apparent position of stars. Cecilia Payne’s imagination was captured by astronomy. She completed her studies but Cambridge did not grant women degrees until 1948 and her only option in the UK would be to become a teacher. She met Arthur Shapley, Director of the Harvard College Observatory who had just established a graduate program. Thanks to a fellowship to encourage women to study at the observatory she left the US to pursue graduate school in the US.  With Shapley’s encouragement she became the first PhD in astronomy at Radcliffe College (which is now part of Harvard).

Her 1925 thesis was "Stellar Atmospheres; a Contribution to the Observational Study of High Temperature in the Reversing Layers of Stars." Indian physicist Meghnad Saha had recently developed his ionization theory, which relates the ionization state of a gas in thermal equilibrium to the temperature and pressure. That is, he explained how those stellar “bar codes” due to ionized gas in stars relates to their temperature and pressure. Astrophysicists use the phrase “to Saha correctly” now to describe the process of interpreting stellar atmospheres. Cecilia Payne was able to Saha correctly on the Harvard collection of stellar spectra; she showed that variations in absorption lines were related to ionization state and temperature, rather than the various amounts of elements. She found the abundances of silicon and carbon were just like here on Earth, as expected, but that hydrogen and helium were vastly more abundant. Hydrogen in fact was a million times more abundant! This meant it was the most abundant element in the universe. This seemed too astonishing to be true. When defending her thesis, astronomer Henry Norris Russell, swayed by the theories of American physicist Henry Rowland, convinced her that this result was spurious. But she was right and they were wrong. Within a few years astronomer Otto Struve described her work as "the most brilliant PhD thesis ever written in astronomy" and Russell himself found independent evidence of her result. Russell published his result and though he acknowledged Payne he was often wrongly credited with this discovery.

After her doctorate, she looked at the structure of the Milky Way by studying high luminosity supergiant stars, discovering many of their unusual properties including exotic ions in their spectra. Shapley suggested that she work on photographic stellar photometry which required meticulous work to establish standard stellar magnitudes and colours. She chafed under this time-consuming assignment but she knew the work was important. It lead to her best-known work on variable stars on which she spent many years. She used the millions of observations made with her assistants to investigate stellar evolution, and published the book 'Stars of High Luminosity' in 1930.

She became an American citizen in 1931 and then while on tour in Europe, met the stateless Russian-born astrophysicist Sergei I. Gaposchkin in Germany. He had flead the soviet purges in Russia and now feared for the future in Nazi Germany. She went to Washington to help him get an American visa. The two were married in 1934. She appended his last name to her own. They had three children and worked together on the observation and analysis of all variable stars bigger than magnitude 10 (a measure of brightness). Their paper on the subject became the standard reference. Their insight into variable stars served as means of elucidating the structure of the galaxy and the role of variable stars in stellar evolution. Payne-Gaposchkin worked at Harvard for her entire career. While she was barred from a professorship as a woman, and relegated to low-paid research positions, she nonetheless was able to publish several more books including 'Variable Stars' (1938), 'Variable Stars and Galactic Structure' (1954), and 'The Galactic Novae' (1957)'. Shapley worked to improve her position and in 1938 she was given the title Astronomer, later changed at her request to Phillips Astronomer. In 1943 she was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Thanks in part to the efforts of Donald Menzel who became Director of the Harvard College Observatory in 1954, she became the first woman full professor from within the faculty at Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1956 and was finally paid a salary commensurate with her stature. She trained several graduate students who went on to eminent careers in astronomy. Eventually she became the department Chair, the first woman Chair at Harvard. She retired in 1966, but continued working as an Emeritus Professor of Harvard, as a staff member at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, editing books and journals for the next twenty years. As well as the books mentioned she published more than 150 papers, popular science books and an astronomy textbook. In 1977, she was awarded the highest honour of the American Astronomical Society, the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship. Payne-Gaposchkin was a trail-blazer and role model for women in the male-dominated field of astronomy, and one of the great scientists of the twentieth century. Late in life, she wrote:

Young people, especially young women, often ask me for advice. Here it is, valeat quantum. Do not undertake a scientific career in quest of fame or money. There are easier and better ways to reach them. Undertake it only if nothing else will satisfy you; for nothing else is probably what you will receive. Your reward will be the widening of the horizon as you climb. And if you achieve that reward you will ask no other. 

Wikipedia entries on Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (both in English and French), Meghnad Saha, the Saha ionization equation, and Absorption spectroscopy, accessed May, 2019.
Gingerich, O., Obituary - Payne-Gaposchkin Cecilia, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 23, P. 450, 1982
Smith, Elske V.P.,  Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Physics Today 33, 6, 65 (1980);

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Art The Science Profile

Wunderkammer, multimedia (93 cm x 63 cm x 8 cm), wood, paper, ink, conductive ink and thread, string, electronics, by Ele Willoughby, 2017

Art the Science, is a Canadian registered nonprofit SciArt organization which provides a platform for creators working within this emerging genre to share their practice with a global audience. They recently contacted me about my work and have just posted their profile of me here! Check it out, and all the blog as a whole - it's a wonderful collection of some of my favourite things at the place that art meets science.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Contemporary Renaissance Woman

Yesterday I gave a talk about my experience as an astronaut candidate for the Canadian Space Agency at Albert Campbell Library in Scarborough. Today, I'm in the Star. Online, it's 'Would-be astronaut is artist on the side, and one of a million Canadians with a side hustle.' In the print edition, it's in the Life section and called 'What drives the side hustle?' Here's what they had to say about me:

Ele Willoughby is a marine geophysicist who has a burgeoning art print business called Minouette on Etsy Canada. It’s a combination that suits her, and one she’s flexible to changing up. At the moment she is focusing on her art and is working on a book of portraits of female scientists and the stories behind their work.
“I was actually one of the astronaut candidates for the Canadian Space Agency in their recent search for an astronaut,” says Willoughby. “I’m still open to switching the balance, and being more of a scientist, and doing art on the side.”
If you're one of the people who attended my talk, thank you very much for coming out! It was lovely to speak with you and great to see there was interest from such a range of different ages of people. If you're interested in hearing my talk, you can catch it next at:

Tuesday April 2 at 6:30  pm
Coxwell/Danforth Branch
1675 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON M4C 5P2 

I continue to pursue the weirdest business card title combination, but basically I want to do the things that I love best and fill the world with more art and more science.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Red-legged Grasshopper

Red-legged Grasshopper, linocut, 7" x 4", Ele Willoughby, 2019
I made a cloud (or edition) of tiny grasshoppers! Red-legged grasshoppers are the most common grasshoppers in this part of the world. I’m made these prints for Wing Tip Press Leftovers print exchange. Printmakers exchange mini prints (< 7” x 5”) and raise money to combat hunger. So I wanted something related to hunger and my other flora and fauna sciart prints. I chose the grasshopper because it can be both an agricultural pest or a food source.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Talking about science

When I tell people - non-scientists - that I am a marine geophysicist, most of them ask me about whales. I study the ocean floor, not the life within the ocean, but I think people have heard of a marine biologist, and often have never come across a geophysicist, let alone one who works at sea. So, I spend a lot of time explaining that whales are beautiful, but I don't study whales. Once, I struggled to explain my research in French, to someone who kept me busy with questions for over an hour - but the next time we met, she asked me how the whale research was going! So, hilariously, when asked to perform at a science-themed storytelling event, I've opted to share a story about whales in a tale about when marine geophysics goes wrong. You can catch me next Monday, at the Burdock (1184 Bloor Street) for The Story Collider, a science storytelling event series and podcast, where people tell personal stories about science. You can reserve your ticket here. The stories might begin at 7:30 but seating is limited, so unless you're happier standing (closer to the bar), you'll want to arrive by 7:00.

Me (left), the marine geophysicist, in the field and some of my sciart
about the exploration of space: my linocut portrait of astronaut
Mae Jemison (above) and mathematician and Space Race aeronautical
engineer Mary Golda Ross (below) 
Last fall, I gave a talk about my experience as an astronaut candidate for the Canadian Space Agency for Science Literacy Week. Since astronauts are both scientists and science communicators, I combined an introduction to my research with my science-art, since I usually use the medium of fine art to communicate science these days. This was the first time I had an opportunity to combine these two very different pursuits in one talk! I also, of course, spoke about the extraordinary experience of the astronaut selection process and getting the opportunity to go the the Astronaut Assessment Centre. I have since given a version of this talk to a troupe of boy scouts and visiting girl scouts. I will be giving this talk two more times this year at Toronto Public Libraries. You can catch me:

March 19th at 2 pm
Albert Campbell Library
496 Birchmount Road
Toronto, ON M1K 1N8


Tuesday April 2 at 6:30  pm
Coxwell/Danforth Branch
1675 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON M4C 5P2

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Looking back at my art and science 2019

Antoine et Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier,
linocut with collaged washi,
2018 by Ele Willoughby
This year started with the end of our tenure running the Toronto Etsy Street Team gallery. Though this meant a great deal less time curating shows, I did make a move to show my art more in gallery shows, and sell through galleries and shops and less selling in person. Early in the year, I decided I would not participate in the One of a Kind Christmas Show. Selling art in person is tough to do; it's hard on your body to stand for long hours, fine art can be a harder sell than handmade goods which serve more than just an aesthetic purpose, and retailing anything can be gruelling - perhaps more so if it is your own creation. But, I am quite pleased that I did participate in a large number of artshows, a sold art in a variety of cities this year.

The first show for me this year was The Tarot Lovers: Works of Heart exhibition, which showed (and sold) at the Wellington County Museum and Archives. Curated by Shelley Carter, this show is one in a series she has organized with themes based on Tarot cards. I enjoyed the challenge of mixing those concepts with my ongoing works about the history of science, as an excuse to highlight the loving partnership of Antoine Lavoisier (26 August 1743 – 8 May 1794) and his wife Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier (20 January 1758 – 10 February 1836). Lavoisier is often referred to as the 'father' of modern chemistry, without any reference to his wife, and yet, as their official illustrator, she shows herself participating in his experiments and her skills as technical scientific translator allowed him to be up-to-date with chemistry across the Channel.

The next exhibit for which I submitted work was also an exchange of multiples: The Matchbook Project Cabinet of Curiosities.
 The works, along with my previously exhibited 'Imaginary Menagerie' prints were exhibited at Balzac's upstairs gallery for the Curious Fauna show in the fall, and I got my very own wunderkammer of beautiful and very varied artist-made matchboxes on the theme of cabinets of curiosities. This delightful project was curated and created by Hearyung Kim and Natalie Draz (whom I know from PROOF Studio Gallery).

In March I took part in Graven Feather's 'What the Fukushini' exhibit, submitting a version of my pink fairy armadillo linocut with collaged washi papers. This show, in partnership with The Paper Place, had artists make works on or with a specific washi paper. There was a great and delightful variety of works.

 Pink fairy armadillo, 11" x 13", 
multimedia by Ele Willoughby, 2018 (sold)

The most significant creation of new work for an exhibit was my five new portraits of Canadian women in STEM which were part of Curiosty Collider's show Interstitial: Science Innovations by Canadian Women, along with two other artists, this June in Vancouver! Interstitial was curated by Larissa Blokhuis, who makes gorgeous natural history inspired works, mainly in glass. I had previously made Ursula Franklin's portrait for the Phylo Project from Dave Ng and the Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory (the science education facility within the Michael Smith Laboratories, UBC): a trading card game about Women in Science and Engineering! I added geologist Alice Wilson, physicist Harriet Brooks, computer scientist Trixie Worsley, medical researcher and biochemist Maud Menten and geneticist and Down syndrome expert Irene Ayako Uchida. Of these new five, I had only previously known Menten, despite having worked at the Geological Survey of Canada (like Wilson), being an alumni of U of T where Worsley had taught physics and computing and being a physicist by training (like Brooks). I was very glad to become involved with a great science/art organization and take part in this exhibit. Some artwork sold and many others in these editions have since - and it caused me to do some research specically on the history of Canadian women in STEM. This was revealing in and of itself, and I also gained some useful insights into how to find great stories about underappreciated women scientists.

Redbud and the Bees, 18" x 24",
linocut with collaged washi papers by Ele Willoughby, 2018
I made 'Redbud and the Bees' for  Creature Conserve  a non-profit outreach organization which brings artists and scientists together to "foster sustained and informed support for animal conservation," and their show Urban Wildlife: Learning to Co-exist. I remembered the urbanredbud citizen science project here in Toronto. Local U of T doctoral candidate Charlotte de Keyzer is working with the public to gather data on flowering times of Eastern redbud trees (Cercis canadensis) and their pollinators using bee nest boxes and traps. She made the suggestion of highlighting how the redbuds are moving into Toronto due to climate change and gardiners, and though popular with our local bees, they also attract a less popular new species the Eastern carpenter bee, who drill holes in wood to build nests. (Because the world is very small, it turns out de Keyser is the sister-in-law of my friend Laura Watt who you may know from Cubits). This show was curated by Creature Conserve founder, artist and scientist Lucy Spelman. It has been shown at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in July, and ArtProv Gallery in Rhode Island in September. This year, the exhibit will travel to other galleries in the US. Stay tuned for more details and chances to see these works!

This August, the Ontario Science Centre (OSC) staged an exhibit called 'Quantum' about the history of quatum mechanics. My friends at The Maker Bean (where you can now find my art, at both their Bloor and Dufferin and OSC locations) asked if I had an artwork about quatum mechanics. Indeed I do! So my portraits of physicists Bohr, Meitner, Roentgen, Wu and Curie, as well as Schroedinger's Cat, have all been on display at the OSC since then!

Me, at sea and two of my space-related prints:
my portraits of astronaut Mae Jemison and
Space Race engineer and mathematician Mary Golda Ross
This October, I was invited to give a talk as part of Science Literacy Week about my experience being an astronaut candidate for the Canadian Space Agency. Since astronauts are both scientists and science communicators, I took this as an opportunity to talk about both my research and sciart, together for the first time. I spoke at an event called "Space Mythbusters" at Gerstein Library along with a couple of other scientists. I told them what the astronaut selection process was really like and a bit about the mission that Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques has now begun, onboard the International Space Station. I also gave a version of this talk to a Boy Scout troup and am planning to do so at a couple of Toronto Public Libraries in 2019. Jesse Hildebrand spearheads Science Literacy Week, and he invited me to submit a proposal for Story Collider, a science-themed storyteller series and podcast. He hosts the Toronto series along with Misha Gajewski. So, I'm going to be doing that too, very early in the new year! Catch me on January 14th.

Eastern carpenter bee multimedia (sold)
Once again, I participated in Graven Feather's In the Round Show, this year hosted at PROOF Studio Gallery in the Distillery. I made a couple of round multimedia works based on my new bee and redbud lino blocks and one on the pink fairy armadillo. Like other years, I also participated in and helped organize the Toronto Etsy Street Team shows, including the Summer Market (or, this year, our first Etsy: Made in Canada Spring Show), Etsy: Made in Canada in September and our TEST Christmas Market, less than a week ago.  I also participated in Peggy Muddles' Scienterrific Pop-up at Tosca Terran's new Co:Lab space - in the same gallery where we had our year-long TEST Gallery pop-up! Likewise, I participated in Graven Feather's Holiday Market too. I was very pleased to also send off a selection of women scientist prints to Anthology boutique in Madison, Wisconsin.

Santiago Ramón y Cajal, linocut, 12" x 12" by Ele Willoughby, 2018
As well as all these shows and works created with specific shows in mind, I also added to my on-going collection of scientist portraits with neuroscientist and artist in his own right, Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852 - 1934), 17th century scientist and scifi author Margaret Cavendish, ancient Egyptian court physician Merit Ptah (arguably the earliest recorded woman in science), pharmaceutical chemist Alice Ball (who made the first effective treatment for leprosy), mathematician and Space Race engineer Mary Golda Ross, and mathematician Emmy Noether. All of these involved research and writing on my part too. I also managed to complete my long-awaited chair reuphostery personal project, with involved printmaking, patchwork, applique and embroidery.

On a personal front, we managed to also sneak in trips to Sault Ste Marie for my family reunion and out to New Brunswick to see my husband's family. Amazingly, our - now five year old son - has been raised to be a good little traveller, and we managed to do this by car! My husband has some new, hard-won job security. Our son started French immersion in senior kindergarter this year. All of this is good.

When I looked back I see that in fact, a lot happened this year, and while it sort of feels sometimes that I have never accomplished enough, I have done rather a lot. I know that this year will bring more art shows, already in the planning and several more speaking engagements. I have several collections I am continuing to build and I would like to do more varied multimedia work. It isn't always straightforward to navigate a path as self-employed modern day Renaissance woman, but I think (I hope) that I'm on the right patch to carve out my own place at the intersection of art and science.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

On-going Series of Women in STEM for Ada Lovelace Day Throughout History

The earliest recorded woman in science was a woman of colour and one of the earliest known person in STEM at all. Merit Ptah ("beloved of [the god] Ptah") lived circa 2700 BCE and was chief physician of the pharoah's court, implying not only that she was recognized as a doctor, who attended the pharoah, but that she trained and supervised other doctors, during the Second or Third Dynasty of Ancient Egypt.
Merit Ptah, Chief Physician, linocut by Ele Willoughby, 11" x 14", 2018

Hypatia, the first recorded female mathematician lived in the 3rd century AD in Alexandria, Egypt, which was part of the Roman Empire. She was born at some time between about 350 and 370 and died in 415 C.E. She was the head of the Platonist school, where she taught philosophy, astronomy and mathematics. She believed in empiricism and natural law. She was the last librarian of the famed Library of Alexandria in the Museum of Alexandria, largest and most significant library of the ancient world. She was the daughter of a famous mathematician, Theon Alexandricus (ca. 335–405), with whom she worked and published edited versions of Classical texts in mathematics. She also pursued her education in Athens and Italy before returning to Alexandria and becoming the head of the Platonist school. It is known that she wrote commentaries on 13-volume Arithmetica by Diophantus, the Conics of Apollonius, and edited Ptolemy's Almagest and on Euclid's Elements. She charted heavenly bodies. She built and instructed her pupils in the design and use of the astrolabe, and likely made improvements to it.

Hypatia, linocut 12" x 12" by Ele Willoughby, 2012

Margaret Lucas Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1623 – 1673), 17th-century English aristocrat, philosopher, poet, scientist, fiction-writer, and playwright shown with her imaginary world from her strange science fiction novel 'The Blazing World' which she appended to her scientific treatise 'Observations upon Experimental Philosophy'.

Margaret Cavendish and the Blazing World linocut 11" x 14", 2018, by Ele Willoughby

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), was the leading entomologist of her day, traveller and scientific illustrator. She is shown complete with pomegranate branch and the life cycle of a morpho butterfly from caterpillar, to chrysalis in its cocoon to butterfly, inspired by her famous work 'Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium' - a process she discovered then carefully documented and explained.

Maria Sibylla Merian, 11" x 14" linocut by Ele Willoughby, 2015
German-born Caroline Herschel (1750 – 1848), while overshadowed by her brother William (who discovered Uranus, amongst his other astronomical accomplishments), was a real pioneer as a woman in astronomy and made her own important contributions. In fact, she became the first salaried female scientist, when King George III hired her to assist her brother, at a time when there were few professional scientists anywhere. Hers was a real life sort of scientific Cinderella story; deemed unmarriageable, since a childhood bout of typhus stunted her growth, her mother thought she should train to be a servant but William managed to rescue his younger sister from their mother's clutches, under the pretext that she might have the voice to be a solo singer in Handel's oratorios, as she too was a natural musician. Of course, he also wanted a woman to manage his bachelor household. Meanwhile, he developed a real passion for astronomy and soon, so did his sister. She discovered 11 nebulae (2 of which turned out to be galaxies) which were previously unknown! She also found 8 or 9 comets, as well as making and sharing observations of comets discovered by others. She worked to complete and publish her brother's star charts after his death.
Caroline Herschel
Caroline Herschel, linocut by Ele Willoughby, 2014

Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier (1758 – 1836) was the wife of Antoine Lavoisier, who is often referred to as the 'father' of modern chemistry, without any reference to his wife. Marie-Anne became interested in her husband's scientific pursuits and soon joined him in the lab. She received formal training in the field from his friends and colleagues Jean Baptiste Michel Bucquet and Philippe Gingembre. Marie-Anne also famously hosted scientific salons with luminaries of the day and was taught. Jacques Louis David painted his Portrait of Anoine-Laurent Lavoisier and his wife in 1788. He also trained Marie-Anne Paulze in drawing and engraving, allowing her to accurately illustrate their experiements. And she most definitely appears in her own drawings and engravings documenting their work.

Antoine et Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier, linocut with collaged washi,
2018 by Ele Willoughby

Mary Anning (1799 – 1847) was the wrong class, the wrong sex and even the wrong religious denomination to gain the education, opportunity to work and communicate her results or to garner any respect as a pioneering paleontologist. Further, during her lifetime most people in Britain and elsewhere thought the Earth was a mere few thousand years old, based on a very literal interpretation of the Bible and found the idea of extinction did not fit in with the story of creation. Yet, her fossil discoveries, meticulous collection, documentation and independent work to fully understand the anatomy of the amazing Jurassic creatures she encountered in famed Blue Lias cliffs of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, were so undeniable that she gained the recognition, admiration and respect of the paleontologists of the day. She made her first significant find, the first ichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified, with her brother Joseph when she was only 12 years old. Her research showed that belemnite fossils contained fossilised ink sacs like those of modern cephalopods. She was also the first to recognize that coprolites, known as bezoar stones at the time, were fossilised... well, animal droppings (feces). While this sounds distinctly unglamorous, the study of coprolites pioneered by Anning and Buckland were vital to understanding ancient ecosystems. Her friend Henry De la Beche painted the first widely circulated representation of a prehistoric (deep time) scene, based on her finds, and he sold prints to benefit her financially.
Mary Anning
Mary Anning, linocut by Ele Willoughby

Anna Atkins (1799-1871), née Children, was an English botanist and photographer. She is the first person to have illustrated a book using photographs, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in October 1843. Note that: not the first woman, the first person. She lived at a time when it was possible to be a self-trained scientist, especially if you were middle or upper class and received an education and the financial freedom to devote your time to pursue your subject. She was raised and instructed by her father, a naturalist, and her social circle included those who were developing (no pun intended) the latest, brand new photographic technology. So, she was at the right place at the right time. But that doesn't take away from the fact that she had the knowledge, skill, insight and ability to immediately see the utility of the method for descriptive science and to document a specific field of sub-field of botany, with her collection of the algae (seaweeds) of Britain. I think this should be understood as equivalent to a modern-day scientist keeping abreast of other fields of study and rapidly mastering a new high-tech tool to apply it to her field. Even William Henry Fox Talbot, who who invented the salted paper and calotype processes, precursors to modern photographic methods, was not able to publish The Pencil of Nature the first commercially printed photographic book, until eight months after she produced Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. 

This is a portrait of English botanist and photographer Anna Atkins (1799-1871), née Children. It combines both a hand-carved lino block portrait in dark silver ink, and a screenprint of the silhouette of fern leaves in cobalt blue ink, mimicking the cyanotypes she was known for. It is printed by hand on lovely Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper, 11" x 14" (28 cm x 35.6 cm). (c) Ele Willoughby, 2015

Today is named in honour of Countess, Lady Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), who published the first computer program. She worked together with Charles Babbage, the inventor of the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine (the first - analogue! - computers), correcting his notes on how to calculate Bernoulli Numbers with the Analytical Engine. More importantly, she (a great communicator, daughter of mad, bad and dangerous to know poet Lord Byron) was able to understand and explain the workings of the analytical engine and the potential of computing machines. Her comments seem visionary to the modern reader. Babbage called her the Enchantress of Numbers.

Ada Lovelace linocut by Ele Willoughby

Founder of modern nursing, social reformer, statistician, data visualization innovator and writer Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) earned the nickname "The Lady with the Lamp" during the Crimean War, from a phrase used by The Times, describing her as a “ministering angel” making her solitary rounds of the hospital at night with “a little lamp in her hand”. Behind Nightingale is her own ‘Diagram of Causes of Mortality in the Army in the East’ plotted as a polar area diagram – her own statistical and data visualization innovation, sometimes called a Nightingale Rose Diagram. It illustrates the causes of death in the military hospital she managed during the Crimean War. When she researched the causes of mortality, looking back at the data, she saw clearly that the lack of hygiene was a far greater risk to soldiers’ lives than being wounded. Her statistics and clear data visualization saved lives.

Florence Nightingale portrait
Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910), nursing, statistics and data visualization pioneer, linocut by Ele Willoughby

Great Russian mathematician and writer, Sofia Vasilyevna Kovalevski (1850-1891), is also known as Sofie or Sonya, her last name has been transliterated from the Cyrillic Со́фья Васи́льевна Ковале́вска in a variety of ways, including Kovalevskaya and Kowalevski. Sofia's contributions to analysis, differential equations and mechanics include the Cauchy-Kovalevski theorem and the famed Kovalevski top (well, famed in certain circles, no pun intended).  We now know there are only three fully integrable cases of rigid body motion and her solution ranks with those of mathematical luminaries Euler and Lagrange. She was the first woman appointed to a full professorship in Northern Europe or to serve as editor of a major scientific journal. She is also remembered for her contributions to Russian literature. All of this despite living when women were still barred from attending university. Her accomplishments were tremendous in her short but astonishing life.
Sofia Kovalevski linocut
Sofia Kovalevski, linocut by Ele Willoughby, 2014

My portrait of Marie Skłodowska-Curie (1867 – 1934) shows the famous Polish-born, naturalized-French physicist and chemist at work in her lab. The contents of her lab glassware appropriately glow-in-the-dark! She was one of the pioneers who helped explain radioactivity, a term she coined. She was the one who first developed a means of isolating radioactive isotopes and discovered not one, but two new elements: polonium (named for her native country) and radium. She also pioneered radioactive medicine, proposing the treatment of tumors with radioactivity. She founded medical research centres, the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw which are still active today. She created the first field radiology centres during World War I. Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel prize, the only woman to ever win TWO Nobel prizes, and the only person ever to win in two different sciences: physics and chemistry!

Marie Curie linocut glows in the dark
Marie Skłodowska-Curie (1867 – 1934), physicist, chemist, double Nobel Laureate
Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868- 1921) was an American astronomer. In her day, women scientists were regularly hired to do menial chores. She was hired to count images on photographic plates as a "computer". In studying these plates, in 1908 she was able to deduce a ground-breaking theory, which allowed Hubble's later insight about the age and expansion of the universe. Her period-luminosity relation for Cepheid variable stars radically changed modern astronomy, an accomplishment for which she received little recognition during her lifetime.
Henrietta Swan Leavitt
Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868 – 1921), astronomer whose work set the scale of our Universe

Canadian medical researcher Maud Menten (1870-1960) has been called the "grandmother of biochemistry" and "a radical feminist 1920s flapper," and a "petite dynamo." Not only was she an author of Michaelis-Menten equation for enzyme kinetics (like the plot in indigo in my portrait), she invented the azo-dye coupling for alkaline phosphatase, the first example of enzyme histochemistry,  still used in histochemistry imaging of tissues today (which inspired the histology background of the portrait), and she also performed the first electrophoretic separation of blood haemoglobin in 1944!

Maud Menten, linocut 9.25" x 12.5" by Ele Willoughby, 2018
Physicist Harriet Brooks (1876 - 1933) shows her and her discovery of atomic recoil. Brooks also discovered Radon and measured its atomic mass and half-life. Her graduate supervisor and future Nobel laureate Ernest Rutherford also credited her with first recognizing that radioactive elements could undergo chains of transmutations into a series of new elements. He stated that she was second only to Marie Curie in her capacity for and ability as a radioactivity researcher. During her extraordinary 6 year career in physics she worked with 3 Nobel laureates (Rutherford, Thomson and Curie) and made these fundamental contributions to the new field of nuclear physics!

Harriet Brooks, linocut 9.25" x 12.5" by Ele Willoughby, 2018

Physicist Lise Meitner (1878 – 1968) was the first person to provide a theoretical explanation for nuclear fission and was an integral member of the experimental team as well (she collaborated with ollaborated with chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Straßmann), though her gender and her heritage interfered with her being properly acknowledged in late 30s Germany. Only Hahn was awarded the Nobel for this work. She received the Max Planck Medal of the German Physics Society in 1949. Meitner was nominated to receive the Nobel prize three times. In 1966 Hahn, Fritz Straßmann and Meitner together were awarded the Enrico Fermi Award. In 1997, the element 109 was named meitnerium in her honour. Today the Hahn-Meitner Institut in Berlin, craters on the Moon and on Venus, and a main-belt asteroid are all named in her honour.
Lise Meitner
Lise Meitner (1878 – 1968) and Nuclear Fission, linocut by Ele Willoughby
Geologist and paleontologist Alice Wilson (1881-1964) mapped the entire Ottawa-St Larence Valley region by herself, since she was barred from doing fieldwork with men, was the first female Canadian geologist, despite ill-health and a frail constitution. Her research interests focused on fossil invertebrates from the Paleozoic era (252–541 million years ago) from across Canada, and from the Ordovician era (444–485 million years ago) in her own backyard in Ontario and Quebec as well as Ordovician fauna from the Rockies and Arctic. She studied stratigraphy in Ontario and Quebec. Over the course of 50 years, she became an authority on fossils and rocks of the Ottawa - St. Lawrence Valley, as a direct response to the sexist limitations placed upon her.

Alice Wilson, linocut on collaged washi papers, 11" x 14" by Ele Willoughby, 2018

Emmy Noether (1882-1935) was one of the greatest 20th century mathematicians and Noether's Theorem is one of the most fundamental and profound theories in physics.
Emmy Noether, linocut, 11" x 14", Ele Willoughby, 2018

Inge Lehmann (1888-1993) was a pioneer woman in science, a brilliant seismologist and lived to be 104. In 1936 she wrote an earth-shattering paper, with an astonishingly succinct title: P' in which she laid out her arguments supporting her discovery of the inner core of the earth. She later also discovered a discontinuity in the mantle (confusingly called the Lehmann discontinuity). When she received the Bowie medal in 1971 (she was the first woman to receive the highest honour of the American Geophysical Union), her citation noted that the "Lehmann discontinuity was discovered through exacting scrutiny of seismic records by a master of a black art for which no amount of computerization is likely to be a complete substitute..."

Inge Lehmann, linocut on Japanese washi, 8" x 8" by Ele Willoughby
Alice Augusta Ball (1892 - 1916) was a chemist who discovered the first effective treatment for leprosy (or Hansen's disease) a disfiguring disease which has afflicted people for millenia. Physician Dr. Harry T. Hollmann of the Kalihi Hospital in Hawai'i and acting director of the Kalihi leprosy clinic, was unsatisfied with using chaulmoogra oil in its natural form to treat leprosy patients and wanted to isolate the active ingredients. He recruited the graduate student Ball to help. Within a year, she was able to do what chemists and pharmacologists had been unable to do for centuries. She not only isolated the active ingredients but convert them to a form which could be circulated in the body. My print shows how she formed the ethyl ester of chaulmoogric acid (the acid plus alcohol produces the ethyl ester with water).
Alice Ball, 11" x 14", linocut by Ele Willoughby, 2018, shows the chemist, branches of the chaulmoogra tree and
how she formed the ethyl ester of chaulmoogric acid (the acid plus alcohol produces the ethyl ester with water)
Mary Golda Ross (1908-2008) was a mathematician, aeronautical engineer, philanthropist and Cherokee “hidden figure” of the space race. Lockheed Martin hired her as mathematician in 1942, troubleshooting the P-38 Lighting fighter plane (as shown). She knew already that her interest was in interplanetary flight, but didn’t mention it in 1942 for fear that her credibility would be questioned, but she was indeed farsighted. After the war Lockheed Martin sent her to UCLA to study engineering and celestial mechanics. She was one of the 40 engineers selected to start Skunk Works, their Advanced Development Program, an in-house top-secret think tank. She was the only woman and only Indigenous person and much of her work there remains classified! It included preliminary design concepts for interplanetary travel, crewed and uncrewed space flights and the earliest plans for orbiting satellites. She worked on the Agena rocket, so important to the Apollo moon mission (shown) and was an author of the NASA Flight Handbook Vol. III about flight to Mars and Venus.
Mary Golda Ross, linocut handprinted on Japanese kozo paper, 11" x 14", 2018 by Ele Willoughby

Physicist Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997, Chinese-born American physicist, whose nicknames included the “First Lady of Physics”, “Chinese Marie Curie,” and “Madame Wu”) came up with a truly beautiful experiment to test whether the weak force conserves parity. For their theoretical work on the question of parity in the physics of subatomic particles, Lee and Yang were quickly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1957; the Nobel committee neglected to include Wu.
Mme Wu
Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997) and the Violation of Parity, linocut by Ele Willoughby

Hedy Lamarr (1914 –  2000), best known as a star of Hollywood's Golden Age was born Hedwig Keisler, escaped Austria during WWII and her arms-dealer husband and put her inside knowledge to work for the Allied forces.  She knew that torpedoes were guided by radio signals, of a single frequency, which were vulnerable to interference or "jamming". She had the idea that if multiple frequencies were employed, like a radio station which varied its channel unpredictably, it would not be possible for the enemy to find and interfere with the signal. This way the signal could be encoded across a broad spectrum. She met her neighbour, the avant-guard musician and composer George Antheil at a party. Together they developed Hedy's frequency-hopping idea, encorporating George's technology for synchronizing pianolas, and on the 11th of August, 1942, US Patent Number 2,292,387 for the "Secret Communications System." Lamarr's and Antheil's frequency-hopping idea serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as Bluetooth, COFDM (used in Wi-Fi network connections), CDMA (used in some cordless and wireless telephones) and 4G LTE communications. You are probably using a device right now which relies on these ideas.
Hedy Lamarr linocut
Frequency-hopping with Hedwig Keisler, aka Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000), linocut by Ele Willoughby

Irene Ayako Uchida (1917-2013) was a geneticist and cytologist who discovered the risk posed to future offspring due to abdominal x-rays on their pregnant mothers. She was a world expert in Down syndrome, President of the American Society of Human Genetics, served on the Science Council of Canada, received honourary degrees from McMaster and Western universities, was named Woman of the Century 1867-1967 by the National Council of Jewish Women, in Manitoba, an Officer of the Order of Canada, had a lifelong love of language and grammar, and a wry sense of humour.

Irene Ayako Uchida, Linocut, 9.25" x 12.5", 2018 by Ele Willoughby
My linocut portrait of Canadian geneticist Irene Ayako Uchida (1917-2013) is hand printed on 9.25" x 12.5" Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper. Uchida is shown surrounded by chromosones, with anomalies (shown with pink arrows) due to radiation exposure, based on one of her research papers. A strand of DNA is hidden in the image (as her watchband).

American geologist and oceanographic cartographer Marie Tharp (1920-2006), made pioneering, thorough and complete ocean floor maps made with her partner in science Bruce Heezen which revealed the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The mid-ocean ridge itself, based on their 1957 physiographic map, is illustrated behind her, along with the sort of echo sounder or precision depth recorder tracks she used, in front of her.  This work was integral to the Plate Tectonics revolution in earth science.

Marie Tharp and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge Linocut
Marie Tharp and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge,
9" x 12" linocut on Japanese paper, by Ele Willoughby, 2015

Beatrice "Trixie" Helen Worsley (1921-1972) is believed to have earned the very first doctorate in computer science, supervised by Douglas Hartree and Alan Turing at Cambridge, set the WWII Wrens' record for time at sea, at 150 days, and was the first female computer scientist in Canada.

Trixie Worsley, linocut 11" x 14" by Ele Willoughby, 2018

Ursula Franklin (1921 – 2016) represented not only excellence in science and engineering, but she was a great, perhaps even visionary, thinker on the very role of technology in our society, as well as a fearless and tireless advocate for women in STEM, peace and social justice. Her research interests and achievements were clearly guided by her principles, including gathering evidence of the harmful health effects of radiation from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons to or her work on the political and societal impacts of support of the technologies and their use. She was also a pioneer in archeometry: the application of material science to archeology.

Ursula Franklin, linocut, 11" x 14" by Ele Willoughby, 2016

Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born 1943) was just a graduate student in 1967 when she discovered the first radio pulsar (or pulsating star), a highly magnetized, rotating neutron star that emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. This radiation (light in the radio frequency band) can only be observed when the star is point towards us; so, like the light from a distant lighthouse, it appears to pulse at a precise frequency. The 1968 paper announcing this discovery in Nature has five authors, lead by Hewish, followed by Jocelyn Bell. In 1974, Hewish won the Nobel Prize for this discovery, along with fellow radioastronomer Martin Ryle). Jocelyn Bell was not included as it was assumed that the "senior man" was responsible for the work. Jocelyn Bell Burnell has gone one to a very distinguished career in astrophysics. She became the first female president of the Institude of Physics and of the Royal Society of Edinburg. She helped set up the Athena Swan programme to support UK women in science. In 2018 she was awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her discovery of pulsars and lifetime of leadership in science. She is donating the award money to the Institute of Physics for PhD scolarships for underrepresented people including women, ethnic minorities and refugee students in physics!
Jocelyn Bell and the LGM-1
Jocelyn Bell (Burnell) (born 1943) and the LGM-1, astrophysicist who discovered pulsars, linocut by Ele Willoughby

Mae Carol Jemison (born October 17, 1956) is a physician who became the first African American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour for NASA, on September 12, 1992. She also has a B.S. in chemical engineering, served in the Peace Corps, is a dancer and choreographer, formed and runs her own company researching the application of technology to daily life, and even appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Mae Jemison linocut
Mae Jemison, linocut on Japanese kozo paper, 9.25" by 12.5" (23.5 cm by 32 cm) in an edition of eight by Ele Willoughby, 2014