凯瑟琳·桑德森(Katharine Sanderson)tells the story of a 19th century Russian chemist who made contributions across a range of chemistry

到1874年10月,朱莉娅·莱蒙托瓦(Julia Lermontova)成功地捍卫自己的论文时,一方面,全世界的化学博士学位妇女人数就可以一方面。必威体育 红利账户实际上,它们可以用一根手指计算。在德国的哥廷根大学,勒蒙托娃(Lermontova)将塔利(Tally)翻了一番,大概落后芬兰的莉迪亚·塞塞曼(Lydia Sesemann)几个月,后者是苏黎世大学获得化学博士学位的第一位获得化学博士学位的女性。在一个深深的父权制和经常厌恶女性的社会中,勒蒙托娃的成就令人印象深刻。她不仅是第一位获得化学博士学位的俄罗斯妇女,而且还是第一位在德国大学这样做的妇女。

Lermontova’s scientific contributions have largely been forgotten to history, but during her lifetime she was widely respected by her male contemporaries including Dmitri Mendeleev – who asked her to help in ordering elements in his nascent periodic table – and her work on hydrocarbons were an important contribution at the time.

Women in Russia were simply not allowed to study at university

Lermontova and other scientifically ambitious 19th century women came up against a formidable barrier to their education: 19th century men. In those days, women just weren’t scientists. To study at an advanced level, you had to be rich, able to pay for private tuition, and be in it for the love of science rather than recognition for your efforts. In many countries, universities didn’t allow women to study for any degree at all. And if women wanted to do research, finding a lab headed by a man who deemed women worthy of working there was not easy. Russia did have pockets of enlightenment, however, and several prominent chemists were supportive of female students.

Lermontova was born in 1846 to a wealthy family in St Petersburg, and her father was director of the Moscow Cadet Corps. The family lived in Moscow and her parents were wholeheartedly supportive of Julia having a thorough education, engaging the best private tutors. Her interest in chemistry was ignited during her studies, and she applied to study further at Moscow’s Petrovskaia Agricultural College. But she was rejected. Women in Russia were simply not allowed to study at university.

Thanks to a friendship with another remarkable woman, though, Lermontova eventually achieved her ambitions to take her academic studies further. She met Sofia Kovalevskaya, a married woman who was heading to Germany to pursue her own academic ambitions. Kovalevskaya probably only got married so that she didn’t need her parents’ permission to travel, allowing the move to go ahead. Kovalevskaya went on to become a remarkable mathematician.

莱尔蒙托瓦(Lermontova)和门德莱夫(Mendeleev)在海德堡(Heidelberg)首次见面

科瓦莱夫斯卡亚(Kovalevskaya)说服了勒蒙托瓦(Lermontova)的父母让她前往海德堡(Heidelberg),并于1869年到达与这对夫妇在一起。科瓦莱维斯卡亚的说服力也在大学工作,两名妇女能够参加讲座,包括罗伯特·本森(Robert Bunsen)的讲座。Lermontova甚至被接纳为Bunsen的研究实验室。本森被描述为notorious misogynistand even awoman hater, so to be allowed into his labs was quite an achievement.

Heidelberg was a hub for Russian scientists, including the great Mendeleev. Gisela Boeck, a historian of chemistry at the University of Rostock in Germany, suggests in the bookWomen in their Elementthat it was in Heidelberg that Lermontova and Mendeleev first met. While she was working in Bunsen’s labs, Lermontova investigated the platinum metals, probably at Mendeleev’s suggestion according to a 1983article about Lermontova威斯康星大学Sheboygan的夏琳·斯坦伯格(Charlene Steinberg)。这加剧了人们对这一元素的精确原子量的越来越多的知识,并填补了Mendeleev最大成就的差距 - 元素周期表。这些金属都具有相似的化学反应,并且在同一矿石中发现,因此将它们分开是一个棘手的问题。

这至关重要的贡献foundational point in the development of modern chemistry is barely known, but Lermontova’s efforts didn’t end there. Her interests changed to organic chemistry, and she followed Kovalevskaya to the University of Berlin. Here, rather than try the conventional route to university entry, which was almost guaranteed to fail, she went straight to the organic chemist August Wilhelm Hofmann. Again as a private student, she set to work attending his lectures and working in his lab. Hofmann was a formidable and well-respected organic chemist, and appears to have been the firstto introduce the beloved molecular modelto the chemists’ repertoire.

Around the time Lermontova was there, Hofmann’s speciality was organic nitrogen compounds. Within months of joining Hofmann, Lermontova’s research was worthy of publication. She had re-assessed the structure of an aromatic compound known as diphenin, which was thought to be 4,4-diaminoazobenzene. But Lermontova showed that diphenin wasn’t an azo compound with its tell-tale nitrogen–nitrogen double bond at all; rather it was a hydrazo compound, with two NH groups connected by a single N–N bond, 4,4-diaminohydrazobenzene. This discovery overturned the previous work of established French organic chemists August Laurent and Charles Friedrich Gerhardt. Hofmann presented the work in March 1872 at the German Chemical Society meeting, and published it in the journalChemische Berichte.

Lermontova then turned her attention to the subject of her thesis: diiodomethane. She interrogated this small iodine-bearing compound with a host of aromatic and aliphatic organic molecules. But even this comprehensive body of work wasn’t enough to persuade Berlin University to grant Lermontova her doctorate. Instead she submitted her work to another, more enlightened German university, Göttingen, and in October 1864 Lermontova successfully defended her thesis ‘A contribution to the chemistry of methylene compounds’ and was awarded her doctorate. This made her the first Russian woman to achieve this qualification in chemistry, and the first woman to be awarded it by a German university. Her friend Kovalevskaya had been awarded a doctorate in mathematics just a few months before, also at Göttingen.

Lermontova returned to Russia and was warmly welcomed by many Russian greats of chemistry, including Mendeleev, who elected her to the Russian Chemical Society.她被尊敬,以至于俄罗斯杰出的有机化学家亚历山大·巴特洛夫(Alexander Butlerov)邀请她加入他在圣彼得堡的实验室。家庭职责看到她返回莫斯科,但是她开始与弗拉基米尔·马尔可尼科夫(Vladimir Markovnikov)合作。她在用卤素基团取代的脂肪族化合物上进行了工作,并提出了一种更好的方法来制作1,3-二纤维丙烷。1876年,勒蒙托瓦(Lermontova)慢慢康复,回到圣彼得堡(St Petersburg)与她的老朋友科瓦莱夫斯基(Kovalevskis)住在一起。她现在可以接受巴特洛夫的提议,并加入了他的实验室,深入研究有机化学。

She was ready to stop her experiments and to leave this field of research

During this time, Lermontova displayed an extraordinary lack of ego ina saga unpicked by Alexander Rulevof the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Irkutsk. In 1878, Bulterov was at a meeting of the Russian Chemical Society. He spotted some familiar-sounding work reported by Alexandr Eltekov from Kharkov University: a new way to make a group of hydrocarbons. Butlerov spotted that this was the same work Lermontova had undertaken a year before. But rather than claiming ownership of the work, Lermontova instead decided to give up all her research in the area, apart from finishing some experiments she’d already begun. Rulev translates a paper of Lermontova’s from 1878: ‘Taking into account that Mr Eltekov had had this article published, I refused to continue all experiments which I had already begun, but considered however that it was necessary to finish and describe those of them which led me to certain conclusions by this time…’

“这片段告诉我们,但是准备op her experiments and to leave this field of research to Eltekov. Could you give the real-life example of such an act for modern chemists?’ asks Rulev. ‘This act of Yulya is very rare,’ he says. ‘Usually, chemists try to keep the field of research for themselves.’ Lermontova was, in Rulev’s opinion, a very strong scientist.

Her work as a chemist continued, as she returned to Moscow and Markovnikov’s lab to unpick the chemistry of petroleum deposits. But it didn’t last, and eventually she gave up her scientific work. As godmother to the Kovalevksis’ daughter, Fufa, and with Sofia Kovalevskaya pursuing her own remarkable teaching career, Lermontova found herself caring for Fufa full time. Kovalevskaya died in 1891 and Lermontova adopted Fufa.

正如勒蒙托娃从化学撤退的那样,她的遗产也是如此。但是,为什么她被遗忘了,为什么勒蒙托娃对化学的贡献不太广为人知?Historians of chemistry Geoff and Marelene Rayner-Canham at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada suggest she was victim of the Matilda effect – where women’s efforts in research have wrongly been attributed to men, even though she was held in high esteem by her contemporaries in Russia. ‘We’re thinking also that – like many women – Lermontova had the imposter syndrome and felt her work was of little consequence,’ Geoff Rayner-Canham comments.

Lermontova, this great of organic chemistry retreated to her family estate, a farm outside Moscow. She died from a stroke in 1919, aged almost 73.

凯瑟琳·桑德森(Katharine Sanderson)is a science writer based in Cornwall, UK