joanna fowler

Today marks the beginning of National Women’s History Month, which this year celebrates women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

At Brookhaven Lab, we have many inspiring women engaged in innovative scientific research, including chemist Joanna Fowler, who received the 2009 National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in science.

Fowler, pictured above with President Barack Obama, is the Director of the Radiotracer Chemistry, Instrumentation and Biological Imaging Program at Brookhaven National Laboratory. She is world renowned for her work in brain research and the study of diseases like addiction, which she investigates using an imaging technique called positron emission tomography (PET).

You might remember her from her photo with that cool chemistry setup in our post on her contributions to PET imaging. In 1976, Fowler and her colleagues synthesized 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), a radiotracer used in PET. Today, FDG is widely used in hospitals and research centers throughout the world to diagnose and study neurological and psychiatric diseases and to diagnose cancer.