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Pioneers in Antarctic research: Lois Jones and her all-woman science team explore the geochemistry of the Dry Valleys

Katherine Lewandowski
Katherine Lewandowski
Department of Geology-Geography, Eastern Illinois University, 600 Lincoln Avenue, Charleston, Illinois 61920, USA
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August 07, 2018
Publication history
17 January 201824 April 2018


Today, women make up about one-third of all scientists who go to Antarctica for research. However, it was just under fifty years ago that the first woman principal investigator was funded by the then United States Antarctic Research Program, which today is known as the United States Antarctic Program (USAP). Colin Bull, Director of the Institute for Polar Studies (today called Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center or BPCRC), had advocated for women to be allowed in Antarctica since 1959. At the time, female graduate students worked on Antarctic research, but were not able to conduct their own fieldwork; thus they relied on men to collect samples and gather the data they needed up until the ban was lifted. One such woman was Lois Jones, whose Ph.D. adviser was The Ohio State University geochemist Dr. Gunter Faure. Once she completed her dissertation on the geochemistry of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, she submitted a proposal for fieldwork in Antarctica to be funded by the USAP. Her proposal was approved and she and her field party of three other women went to Antarctica during the austral summer of 1969–1970. In addition to fieldwork in the Dry Valleys, they gained the honor of being four of the first six women to make it to the South Pole. While the women faced many challenges and chauvinism, their field season was successful. This has led to a legacy of women in Antarctica. Faculty, alumna, and staff from The Ohio State University figure prominently in this story, due to the affiliation of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center with Ohio State.

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GSA Memoirs

Women and Geology: Who Are We, Where Have We Come From, and Where Are We Going?

Beth A. Johnson
Beth A. Johnson
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Geological Society of America
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August 07, 2018



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