Biography of Dorotea Barnés González (1904-?)

Spanish chemistry, born in Pamplona on December 21, 1904. Considered one of the most outstanding national scientists of his time, his name has been linked in the history of science in Spain to the introduction into the country of Raman spectroscopy. (See spectroscopy Raman in spectroscopy, and effect Raman).

Born in a well-to-do family that played an important role in Spanish from the first half of the 20th century - the politics and education his father, don Francisco Barnés, was a Professor of history that came to be named Minister of education during the II Republic - had access since childhood to a careful academic training, unfortunatelyIt was very rare among women of her time. But Professor Barnes and his wife, Doña Dorotea González, were convinced of equal opportunities which, in education, had to share men and women, making it possible that four of his daughters got a degree College, something truly difficult to conceive in any Spanish family of the time.

Based in Ávila by the job duties of his father, Dorotea Barnés little studied secondary education in the Institute of General and technical of the Castilian capital, where he graduated in 1923 with a degree of Bachelor which empowered it to undertake its excellent academic progression within larger companies. It was as well as, already on the verge of reaching the twenty years of age, he moved to Madrid to enrol in the school Institute, recently founded in the Spanish capital (1918) with the aim of introducing official teaching the pedagogical principles of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza. Shortly afterwards, the bouncy navarra student formalized your income at the Complutense University of Madrid, where in 1931 was issued in their favor a degree of Bachelor in chemistry. During its last years of career, he combined his attendance at the University classroom with its constant presence at the headquarters of the Spanish society of physics and chemistry, which had been incorporated in 1928, and also frequented the courses organized by the laboratory Foster of the residence of young ladies of Madrid, directed at that time by María de MaeztuIt became immediately in one of their protectors.

In 1929, the founder of the laboratory, Mary Louise Foster, got to a pupil as Dorotea Barnés a grant that allowed the young move to the United States of America and complete their training at Smith College (Northampton, Massachusetts); Thanks to a pension granted by the Board of extension of studies, the brilliant scientist managed to prolong their stay on American soil, where soon became interested in the modern techniques of spectral analysis, next to one of its best knowledgeable, Gladys Anslow, doctor in physics from Yale University and Professor in the Department of chemistry of Smith College citedwho personally led the research work of Dorotea Barnés. In 1930, the triangle formed by Mary Louise Foster, Gladys Anslow, and Spanish researcher was considered to be one of the most advanced scientific societies within their specialty, which was evident in the publication of some chemical characteristics and the absorption spectrum of cystine (1930), a splendid work that Dorotea Barnés got the Master Degree of Science awarded by the prestigious Smith College. In collaboration with its two outstanding protective, the scientific navarra had managed to become one of the great global specialists in the techniques of spectroscopy applied to chemical analysis; In addition, it was a global specialist knowledge of the cystine substance to which he devoted his doctoral thesis in Spain.

But before his return, still had time to enjoy a new fellowship in the United States of America, this time granted by Yale University so that he could attend courses in its renowned Graduate School, a place then practically barred to women, which could only access if they demonstrate an academic record of exceptional brilliance. This was the case of Dorotea Barnés, who managed to be one of the privileged few who, at the beginning of the 1930s, were treading the classrooms of Yale, although to do so had to request an extension of the support provided from Spain by the large Board of studies, because the American scholarship covered only tuition fees. The immediate of this grant extension was the best evidence of the expectations that its meteoritical academic progression was raising up in Spain, where was something unheard of that a woman triumphed in foreign prestigious Yale academic forums, and less in a discipline which, like chemistry, seemed until then reserved for male students.

The truth is that Dorotea Barnés soon responded pleasantly to these expectations, as it developed in its new Center for research (Sterling Chemistry Laboratory) a brilliant comparative study of nucleic acids in certain pathogenic bacteria, next to another of the great world authorities of the time, Professor Coghill. In 1932, now back in Spain, he joined as a fellow at the National Institute of physics and chemistry, in the spectroscopy section soon had the opportunity to demonstrate the extent of their intense and fruitful learning process through the best universities in the United States (because, in addition to Yale, had also visited the classrooms of Harvardin Massachusetts, and Columbia in New York).

Soon have been incorporated to the aforementioned National Institute of physics and chemistry, Dorotea Barnés - already consecrated as one of the leading figures of the Spanish science of the time - was sent to the Austrian town of Graz to study, next to the famous Professor Karl W. F. Kohlrausch, the technique Raman which allows to identify the molecules of chemical speciesin whose development had arisen difficulties mentioned Austrian Professor to solve the scientific collaboration with navarra. A magnificent work which helped Dorotea Barnés, on his return to Spain after having spent three months in Graz, published the first work written in Spanish on the Raman technique, which saw the light in 1932 between the pages of the annals of the Spanish society of physics and chemistry developed between the two.

Consecrated, therefore as the foremost specialist Spanish in spectroscopy, in 1933 he obtained without great difficulty the Chair of physics and chemistry of one of the most prestigious institutes of Madrid, Lope de Vega, in whose classrooms taught until, because of the outbreak of the Civil War, she was forced to take the path of exile. Previously, at the ninth International Congress of pure and applied chemistry (held in Madrid in 1933), Dorotea Barnés had had the opportunity to demonstrate global relevance achieved by his work, as well as the importance and visibility of your figure among the international scientific community, which named her in the Congress Secretariat of applied biological chemical section.

Installed in the French town of Carcassonne during the contest fratricidal, - paradoxically - the outbreak of the war which abruptly interrupted his eminent scientific career, wasn't the fact of having contracted marriage in Madrid in 1933, the same year his professional success in Congress cited that had gathered in the capital of Spanish to the best chemists around the world. In fact, married and mother of a daughter until the first armed clashes, occurred was forced to abandon his profession under pressure from her husband.


IBERO CONSTANSO, Alba: "Barnés González, Dorotea, Barnés González, Adela" on Candida-PASTOR, MARTÍNEZ, José Mª de la-TAVERA, Susanna [directors], Reyna-Easter: women in the history of Spain, Madrid: planet, 2000, pp. 418-419.

MAGALLÓN PORTOLÉS, Carmen: Spanish pioneers in Sciences. The women of the National Institute of physics and chemistry, Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1998.

ORTIZ GOMEZ, Teresa-BECERRA CONDE, glory: Women in science. Women, feminism and natural sciences, experimental and technological, Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1996.

J. R. Fernández Cano.