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Martha Savage

Martha Savage


Martha Savage wasn’t sure she wanted to be a scientist as a child; she didn’t like the drawing required for it in her primary school classes, nor the long complicated lectures from her physicist father. But helped in part by the example of her mother – who after having children achieved a Masters in mathematics and became a computer programmer1 – Savage went on to study physics and then geophysics at university. She then applied for a job at the South Pole, and lived there for a year – with 16 men and no other women – as a ‘Cosmic Ray Observer’, running the three giant Geiger counters as well as cameras taking pictures of the Auroras.

By the time Savage moved to New Zealand in the mid 1990s, her primary research interest was seismology. Now a Professor at Victoria University, she’d like to be able to predict damaging earthquakes, but doubts that will ever be possible.2


1. “Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day,” Sciblogs, accessed April 1, 2018, https://sciblogs.co.nz/infrequently-asked-questions/2015/10/13/celebrating-ada-lovelace-day/.

2. “Martha Savage,” AGU Career Center, accessed April 1, 2018, https://findajob.agu.org/article/martha-savage/.

This profile is part of the series 150 Women in 150 Words that celebrates women’s contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand, running as part of our 150th Anniversary.