First Person | Mildred Cohn

Erica P. Johnson

Biochemist Mildred Cohn, 90, is one of the few women whose portrait hangs in the halls of the University of Pennsylvania's John Morgan Building. Retired from research but not from science per se--"I still like to talk science and I read"--Cohn is a small, reserved woman who never let the timing of her birth stand in her way. Her determination got her into college at 14, into Nobel laureate Harold Urey's lab as a student, and later to fellow winner Vincent duVigneaud's lab, where she stayed for nine years. When her fellow chemists at Columbia University learned that duVigneaud had hired her, everyone, she says, shook her hand. "It was so rare for anyone to get an academic job. This was only a postdoc position, you understand."

Cohn's 160-plus papers, including those that she co-authored with six

Nobel Laureates, covered research on...

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