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Margaret Bradshaw


Margaret Bradshaw was the first woman to lead a deep field party in the Antarctic. She had first visited the Antarctic in 1975 to collect specimens for a new Antarctic Hall at the Canterbury Museum, where she was the curator of geology. Bradshaw went on to organise five more expeditions and in 1979 she led a trip into the remote field 1200 kilometres from Scott Base.

Bradshaw specialised in the Devonian geologic period, some 400 million years ago. She also looked into the significance of trace fossils – fossilised impressions such as footprints an organism leaves behind. In the summer of 1989-1990 she was the first to find Devonian fish fossils in Antarctica’s Cook Mountains.1 Bradshaw was the second woman to ever receive a Queen’s Polar Medal, was President of the Antarctic Society for 10 years, and has both an Antarctic Peak and a science laboratory named after her.2


1. John Long, Mountains of Madness: A Scientist’s Odyssey in Antarctica (Joseph Henry Press, 2001).

2. Tuesday, 14 November 2017, and 8:59 am Press Release: Antarctica New Zeal, ‘Pioneering Women Honoured in Antarctica | Scoop News’, accessed 15 November 2017, http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC1711/S00032/pioneering-women-honoured-in-antarctica.htm.

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.