Dr. Kathleen Carpenter, pioneering freshwater ecologist, coming to Bangor University, March 2017


Public Lecture: Bangor University, Thursday 9 March, Thoday Building G23: 1300-1400, 2017

The story of Dr. Kathleen Carpenter (1891-1970), pioneering freshwater ecologist in Wales, has been emerging over the past two years based on the joint research of Catherine Duigan and Warren Kovach.  The day after International Women’s Day 2017, you can hear about their latest discoveries at this lecture in Bangor University.

The lecture will pay tribute to Carpenter’s scientific achievements, consider the personal, social and academic challenges this exceptional woman must have faced and develop her as a role model for young scientists today.

Her pioneering MSc and PhD research at Aberystwyth University on the impact of mine waste water is still relevant today. She was also an early champion of the use of science to inform environmental management.  She authored the first freshwater ecology textbook in English – Life in Inland Waters (1928).  After she left Wales, she held positions at three US universities, including Radcliffe College (the female Harvard). Her notable scientific contributions to the field of freshwater ecology include:

  • defining the different natural zones in rivers and lakes;
  • describing the adaptations of the biota to running water;
  • recognising the important influence of temperature;
  • completing one of the first detailed studies of the diet of young salmon; and
  • documented the presence of glacial relic species in Britain.

Just before World War 2 she returned to Britain to complete her career at Liverpool University.

Dr Kathleen Carpenter has earned the title of “the mother of freshwater ecology” and she was also probably our first Welsh freshwater conservationist.

Developed with the assistance of the Carpenter/Zimmerman family and using material from The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth University Archives and Natural Resources Wales.  Dr. Sarah Davies provided the encouragement and opportunity to first bring the story to public attention at Aberstwyth University in 2016.