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Faces of Science: Miriam Rothschild

Mariana Cook’s book, “Faces of Science,” portrays 77 scientists who have made many of the most important discoveries of our time. Each photograph is accompanied by a personal essay written by the scientists. The portraits in this online series are accompanied by excerpts from those essays. For more information, please visit Mariana Cook’s website:

Miriam Rothschild - Photos and Text ©Mariana Cook “Faces of Science”

Naturalists are born and not made. I loved insects, particularly ladybirds, which I began to collect at the age of five years old, but my development into a so-called scientist was due entirely to the influence of my father, who was himself a first-class scientist and who discovered the flea vector of a plague. He studied fleas and butterflies in his spare time, although he was a full-time banker.

In our home, natural history was not a subject – it was a way of life. My father was also very gifted in the way he treated his children. For instance, when he himself went out collecting material, whether it was plants or caterpillars, he took me along as well and treated me as if I were a contemporary, not a child playing with toys. As early as the age of five or six, I was counting the spots on the forewing of ladybirds, and could already tell the difference between the small tortoise-shell butterfly and comma.

Any group of animals I happened to come into contact with, I have always wanted to study…The study of butterflies is, in a sense, the gateway to the entire natural world, and it can bring great satisfaction to all those who are lucky enough to be born with the necessary gene for scientific curiosity.

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Mariana Cook

    MARIANA COOK is a fine art photographer whose work is held in numerous institutional and private collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York City; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Bibliothèque Nationale and Musée d’Art Moderne de la ville de Paris; and the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. Ten books of her work have been published, including the best-selling Fathers and Daughters (1994) and the most recent, Justice: Faces of the Human Rights Revolution (2013). Stone Walls: Personal Boundaries was her first book of landscapes, which was released in 2011 to much acclaim. Her website is