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The Sound of Science - 'Ada Yonath'


Alexis: I’m Alexis from NIU STEM Outreach and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ. Today I’m joined by Idalia. 

Idalia: We’re wrapping up our Women’s History Month episodes with Crystallographer Ada Yonath. 

Alexis: Dr. Yonath was born in Guela, Israel in the mid 1900’s. Her childhood was revolved around both her father’s medical conditions along with her constant desire to understand the principles of the nature around her. Her time in the army’s medical corps cemented her interest in clinical and medical issues. 

Idalia: After studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Weizmann Institute, she earned her PhD in X-ray crystallography, which is the study of the arrangements and structure of molecules and atoms. The shape and composition can be calculated by shooting X-rays and measuring how they’re reflected. 

Alexis: Normally X-ray crystallography is done with inorganic crystals like salt or precious stones. However during her post-doctoral research, Dr. Yonath used it to study biological structures. Specifically, she focused on studying micro-structures and proteins within bacteria. 

Idalia: Dr. Yonath even initiated and established first biological crystallography laboratory in Israel, which was the only laboratory for those studies for nearly a decade. They investigated the three-dimensional structure of ribosomes. 

Alexis: She was ridiculed by the scientific community for her work over two decades, but in 1980 she and her team created the first ribosome micro crystal, which led to the first complete three-dimensional structures of bacterial ribosomes. This information helped our understanding of the inner workings of bacteria, which then helps us find better ways to create antibiotics. Dr. Yonath continues her work today and helps pave the way to learning more about the world of microorganisms. This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ 

Idalia: Where you learn something new every day.

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