Giants in History: Li Fanghua

Advancing electron microscopy  

Li Fanghua (6 January 1932 - 24 January 2020)


Chinese electron microscopy specialist Li Fanghua (6 January 1932 – 24 January 2020) facilitated the high-resolution imaging of crystal structures by eliminating interference. After embarking on her scientific career, partly the result of her high school teachers’ encouragement of her interests in astronomy, mathematics and physics, Li’s research was disrupted by the Cultural Revolution. However, she never stopped thinking about her work and eventually managed to access the library at the Institute of Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in order to follow the latest developments in electron microscopy. In 1973, Li was recognised as an academician of the Institute, where she had spent most of her scientific career. She was also elected one of the "Top 10 Outstanding Women" of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2001 and was the first Chinese female scientist to receive the L'Oréal-UNESCO award, which recognises the contributions of outstanding women researchers. A firm believer in gender equality, Li advised aspiring women scientists to “stick to the subject you are really attracted to and interested in and do not give up easily.”

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