ASKINS, Barbara, American physical chemist, b-1939. A scientist at the Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA). In 1978 she was named US Inventor of the Year, for her method of photo-enhancement from faint negatives. The method was devised for under-exposed negatives such as x-rays, ancient family snaps, or photos such as taken by astronomers. Barbara’s methodology was based on autoradiography involving thiourea labelled with a radioisotope of sulphur. The photo-restoration application is valuable for many applications, less obvious is the deliberate use of lower dosages of x-rays and then enhancing the films. This technique reduces radiation exposure-levels in patients needing to be x-rayed many times (as in patients with multiple injuries). This was the first time that a woman inventor had been named independently as the Inventor of the Year.