The universe of Doctor Who is full of amazing and accomplished female scientists. Some are close friends of the Doctor, some are their enemies, and others have literally changed the course of history!
To celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, here are eight women in science; starting with the eponymous lady herself…
Dubbed ‘The Enchantress of Numbers’ for her mathematical excellence, Ada Lovelace was one of the 19th Century’s foremost mathematicians, and considered by many to be the world’s first computer programmer. Ada first met the Doctor in an alien dimension - which she believed she dreamed up, but was, in reality, a different universe that was home to the Kasaavin. Ada teamed up with the Doctor for a race across time to stop the Kasaavin and their ally, the Master!
Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Shaw was UNIT’s first choice for their scientific advisor. Plucked from her various research programmes at Cambridge University, Liz was initially a reluctant recruit for the Brigadier. However, after meeting the Doctor and surviving an attempted Auton invasion, she quickly decided to be a part of UNIT. With the Doctor, she also met the Silurians, creepy Ambassadors of Death, and the deadly Primords.
When she first met the Doctor, Martha Jones was a medical resident in a London hospital. Her quick thinking and ability to keep calm under pressure helped save the entire hospital from the wrath of the Judoon - even after they had transported the whole building onto the moon! Martha's adventures with the Doctor took her on several visits to the past, where she inspired plenty of people with her medical knowledge and bravery.
After parting ways with the Doctor, Martha finally became a doctor herself - joining UNIT, who accelerated her qualifications given her "experience in the field".
With an utterly fabulous dress sense and total disregard for life, the Rani placed her scientific curiosity over everything else. A renegade Time Lord, she was a contemporary of the Doctor and the Master at the academy on Gallifrey. Unlike the Master, the Rani had no intentions of ruling the universe. She simply wished to carry out her experiments. Unfortunately, those experiments were barbaric, often involving the suffering of others (and on one occasion, her actions even forced the Doctor to regenerate!). No wonder the Doctor had to step in and stop her.
Nyssa of Traken
A companion of the Fourth and Fifth Doctor, Nyssa was a scientist from the planet Traken. Her scientific know-how proved invaluable on several occasions, including saving the Doctor from being beheaded by an android! It was also Nyssa’s interest in science that convinced her to leave her travels in the TARDIS behind her. When they arrived on Terminus, Nyssa found a new calling, dedicating her life to fight Lazar’s Disease.
Chan poor Chantho tho. A Malmooth scientist working in the year 100 trillion, the customs of Malmooth culture meant that Chantho had to bookend every sentence with the first and last parts of her name. Working closely with the kindly Professor Yana, Chantho played a key role in the effort to evacuate the remnants of humanity to Utopia. Brilliant, loyal, and decent, Chantho’s whole world came crashing down when Yana finally opened his pocket watch and reverted to being the Master. Chantho’s devotion and work were not rewarded…
The 21st Century brought a whole new raft of cosmic terrors to Earth, and it needed a whole new generation of UNIT to defend the planet. Enter Kate Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, who adopted the philosophy that science, not military tactics, should guide UNIT. Her closest advisor? Genius and Doctor mega-fan, Osgood.
Osgood’s first encounter with the Doctor led to two versions of herself existing. The human original and a Zygon who had taken her form. Osgood was literally pulling double-duty to keep the Earth safe!
In the near future of 2020 (relatively speaking), geologist Nasreen Chaudhry saw her life's work - a gigantic drill burrowing to the centre of the Earth - open up the world to an ancient and advanced race of Silurians. When soldiers of the underground civilisation rose up and kidnapped humans from the surface, Nasreen joined the Doctor in venturing to the centre of the Earth to bring back their people.
Together with Amy Pond and the Silurians, Nasreen helped to begin brokering a peace between the two species - or at least, the possibility of one in the future...
Romanadvoratrelundar (Romana, for short) was a Time Lord whose intelligence, and occasionally her outfit, matched the Doctor’s. Assigned by the White Guardian to help the Doctor in his quest for the Key to Time, she continued to travel with him after they had assembled the Key.
Romana’s scientific excellence nearly backfired when she was forced to perfect a time machine created by the villainous Scaroth. Fortunately, she rigged the device so that, after two minutes, it would throw Scaroth back to the present. Combined with the most important punch in history, Romana’s cunning saved all of history.
Speaking of Time Lords with scientific minds that rival the Doctor’s, it would be a crime to leave Missy off this list. A twisted genius, this incarnation of the Doctor’s oldest foe was more obsessed with connecting with her former friend than ruling the universe. Although, the way she went about this involved turning everyone on Earth into a Cyberman!