Hope Black (Macpherson) 1919-

Three scientists sorting marine specimens
Hope Macpherson with fellow researchers sorting specimens at Port Phillip, 1960. Courtesy: Museum Victoria.
Scientist making field research notes.Man on wharf farewelling four women on deck of shipScientist at specimen filing drawers in the museumScientist identifying shells at the microscope

Antarctic achievements

Pioneer scientist and mentor Hope Black (nee Macpherson) achieved many firsts in her research career. Black’s research in malacology and marine biology has had lasting impact, increasing scientific knowledge of southern Australia and sub-Antarctic environments.

In 1937, Black began her research career as a museum assistant at the National Museum of Victoria. After graduating from Melbourne University in 1946, Black was promoted to Curator of Molluscs, the first woman to achieve a curatorial appointment at the museum.

After undertaking extensive surveys in the Snowy River Gorge and Port Phillip Bay regions, Black proved her abilities in conducting field-based research. Black, along with fellow pioneer scientists Mary Gilham and Isobel Bennett, travelled to sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island with the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) in 1959, and again the following year. As one of the first women to travel south with ANARE, Black’s hard work and dedication paved the way for others.

On marrying in 1965, Black was forced to resign from the public service due to the marriage bar which, at that time, excluded married women from working. She retrained as a teacher, sparking in her students a passion for science and promoting opportunities for women in science.

Awards and honours

Black co-authored the book, Marine Molluscs in Victoria (1962), still widely used as the seminal reference on this topic. Before retirement, she was a consulting malacologist to the National Science Foundation of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, U.S. She is a distinguished member of the Malacological Society of Australasia.

In 2012, Black was inducted into the Victorian Women’s Honour Roll.