The Living Sea: How a Group of Women Botanists Proved that Coral Reefs are Alive, 1880-1930

Anna Weber-van Bosse was the first woman to be included as an official member of the scientific staff of an oceanographic expedition. She was responsible for studying the marine flora during the Siboga expedition (1899-1900), a Dutch government sponsored scientific exploration of the oceans of modern day Indonesia. Emily Hutcheson, a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will explore how scientists including Anna Weber-van Bosse and Ethel Barton Gepp, reframed the discussion of coral reefs from geological structures to living units, thus shaping the modern concept of the reef ecosystem.

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Clara Immerwahr

Clara Immerwahr, a German physical chemist, was born on June 21, 1870 to a middle-class Jewish family outside of Breslau (present-day Wrocław, Poland). Her father had studied chemistry but was unable to pursue an academic career due to his religious background....

Alexine Tinné

Alexine Tinné, a Dutch heiress and explorer, was born Oct. 17, 1835. Her father died when she was young, leaving her mother, the Baroness Henriette, one of the wealthiest women in the Netherlands. Mother and daughter travelled extensively about Europe when Alexine was in her mid-teens, which would not have been noteworthy, except they travelled without the company of men…

Augusta Klumpke

Augusta Marie Klumpke, born in San Francisco on Oct. 15, 1859, distinguished herself as a physician in Paris at a time when women were barred from such positions. Having moved to Europe at the age of 12 with her mother and five siblings, she showed an early interest...

Caroline Herschel

Caroline Herschel, a German-born English astronomer, was born Mar. 16, 1750. She was the younger sister of William Herschel, a musician who moved from Hannover to England in 1766, and when he invited her to join his musical ensemble in 1772 as a singer, she accepted. Unfortunately for Caroline’s singing career, William got distracted by a book on telescope-building about the time she arrived, and he spent every waking moment, when he was not writing music and rehearsing the choir at the Octagon Chapel in Bath, learning how to grind metallic mirrors for telescopes, and Caroline was more or less left to fend for herself (although she did get to sing one of the leads for a performance of Handel’s Messiah in 1778). Fortunately for William, and perhaps for Caroline, his optical exercises paid off, in that he managed to construct the finest reflecting telescope in the world by 1779, and used it to discover the 7th planet, Uranus, in 1781. He was awarded a pension from the King (he had named his new planet George), gave up his musical career, and moved to an estate near Windsor, where he built bigger and better telescopes and used them to probe deeper and deeper into space. Caroline became his indispensable assistant…