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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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1064_Cook, Mariana, by Dustin Heuston

Mariana Cook

    Photographer Mariana Cook is best known for her intimate characters studies of people both in and out of the public eye. Among those titles are FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, MOTHERS AND SONS, COUPLES, GENERATIONS OF WOMEN, FACES OF SCIENCE, and MATHEMATICIANS. Her photographs are held in numerous institutional and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Bibliothèque Nationale and the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris. Her website is