Biography of Elizabeth Blackburn

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Elizabeth Blackburn’s adolescence was similar to that of other girls growing up in the 1960s. She followed current trends in fashion, listened to the Beatles, and had siblings whom she argued with but also admired. Additionally, she was also a model student who consistently achieved high marks in academics. Being the fifth of seven children, her siblings considered her the most self-motivated of the bunch; worrying less about pleasing others and more about independent success. Although Blackburn’s family background is primarily English, she was born in Hobart, Tasmania, three years after the conclusion of World War II. Her father’s family travelled to Austrailia from Northern England in 1882. Her great-grandfather, Reverend Thomas…show more content…
In doing so, she aimed to support her younger sisters, Margaret and Caroline, and blunt the toll of their mother’s illness (Brady; ch. 2). With all of the activity surround Elizabeth Blackburn, the presence of gender inequality hadn’t become fully apparent. Gendered comments such as “What’s a nice girl like you doing in science?” were common but Blackburn would initially ignore the question of why biochemistry and gender were so frequently discussed as a joint topic (Brady; ch. 1). Yet at the same time, finding a balance between when, where, and to what degree of femininity she should express was always an unrelenting battle in the back of her mind. Of course, Blackburn attributed her lack of initial awareness as a defense mechanism that she is later acquiesced halfheartedly. That is, she shielded herself against conflict by not challenging norms to sustain a “genderless” state of mind (Brady; ch. 2). Blackburn’s first real research experience occurred during her fourth year as an undergraduate at Melbourne under the supervision of Theo Dopheide and Barrie Davidson. Her role was characterizing and purifying an enzyme used by a specific bacteria to better understand its involvement in biosynthesis of phenylalanine. Blackburn first assayed for enzymatic activity using bacteria cell extracts for purification. Then, she used electrophoresis to determine its mass. While her results were initially

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