Episode Description

Scientist Leona Zacharias was a rare woman. She graduated from Barnard College in 1927 with a degree in biology, followed by a Ph.D. from Columbia University. But throughout her career she labored behind men with loftier titles who got the bulk of the credit. In the 1940s, when premature babies born with healthy eyes were going blind, Dr. Zacharias was part of the team that worked to root out the cause.

In this best of Lost Women of Science episode, host Katie Hafner visits the archives at M.I.T. and The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston to try to understand Dr. Zacharias’s role in rooting out the cause. For host Katie Hafner, it's personal: Leona Zacharias was her grandmother.

Zacharias, Dr. Leona, and Susan Larson discussing researchon retrolental fibroplasis research, in connection with new research wing, 1956

Zacharias, Dr. Leona, biologist, undated


  • Nimesh Patel, pediatric ophthalmologist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston
  • Thera Webb. project archivist for the Women at MIT Initiative at MIT
  • Kate Zernike, author of The Exceptions
  • Vanessa Formato, archivist at Mass Eye and Ear
  • Johanna Zacharias, youngest daughter of Leona Zacharias


  • Katie Hafner


  • Katie Hafner

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