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Joan Dingley

Mycologist (1916-2008)

joandingleyJoan Dingley’s family were keen gardeners but, given her own patch to tend as a child, she instead chose to grow attractive weeds all in a row. Dingley reported that her school reports were “a funny mixture”, with the only consistent comment that she made a good flower monitoress.1

Dingley began her 35 year career at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research during the Second World War when “male staff were getting short, so the director had to look for a female”.2 Her job required variable tasks, including teaching local police staff how to identify cannabis and opium poppies. Dingley quickly becoming a world authority on Hypocreales, a kind of fungi with brightly coloured spore-producing structures. She started her own research group, went on many solo fungi collecting expeditions, has 30 species and an entire genus named for her, and built the number of specimens in the New Zealand Fungal Herbarium up from 4000 to 35000.

Image: Joan Dingley. Source: The full wiki.


1. ‘NZBotSoc No 54 Dec 1998’, accessed 23 September 2017, http://www.nzbotanicalsociety.org.nz/newsletter/NZBotSoc-1998-54.pdf.

2. Paula Martin, ‘Profiles of Senior New Zealand Women in Science’, Lives with Science, 1993, p. 9.

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.