Universiteit Leiden

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Campus Square renamed: Rosalind Franklin Square

On World DNA Day 25 April, Leiden University is pleased to focus the spotlight on Rosalind Franklin, whose name was given earlier this month to the Campus Square on the Leiden Bio Science Park. This square will now be known officially as the Rosalind Franklin Square.

Double helix

Franklin, an English chemist, was the first person in the ’50s to discover that the DNA molecule is shaped like the renowned double helix: a pioneering discovery. But at that time it was predominantly men who were encouraged in science, so none of the recognition went to Franklin herself.

In 1962, Franklin’s male colleagues were awarded the Nobel Prize for this discovery, completely ignoring her achievement. She had, in fact, died four years before this from ovarian cancer, probably caused by exposure to radiation during her work in X-ray crystallography. Her work was barely mentioned when the prize was awarded to Watson, Crick and Wilkins. 

Rosalind Franklin


Sixty years later, as a form of reparation, we are naming this square after her: a place that will be developed to become the vibrant green heart of the Leiden Bio Science Park. For Leiden University, the fact that Rosalind Franklin was a woman was the deciding factor in choosing her name, because there disproportionately few streets are named after women. All the streets in the adjacent Kop van Leeuwenhoek area should also be named after women.

Rosalind Franklin's field of study makes us all who we are; it touches on a large part of the research in our Faculty of Science, and also forms a link with the Leiden Bio Science Park. 

Green meeting place

Over the coming years, the Rosalind Franklin Square will be developed to become a green meeting place for students, staff and Leiden’s residents. This is where the university, business and the city come together. Work on the square is expected to start in 2023.  


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