Lake names recognise pioneering scientists

Susan Ingham (left), Mary Gillham, Hope Macpherson and Isobel Bennett, on the deck of the Thala Dan.
Susan Ingham (left), Mary Gillham, Hope Macpherson and Isobel Bennett, headed for Macquarie Island on the Thala Dan. (Photo: Museum Victoria)
This map shows the location of lakes on Macquarie Island, named after five pioneering women.Former Antarctic Station Leader Louise Crossley in Melbourne in 1987.

Several lakes on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island have been named after the first four female scientists to travel south with the Australian Antarctic Program.

Hope Macpherson, Susan Ingham, Isobel Bennett and Mary Gillham went to the World Heritage listed island 60 years ago to undertake field research on the unique flora and fauna.

Chief Scientist of the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Gwen Fenton, said the hard work and dedication of these researchers has paved the way for female scientists who have followed.

“Each of these scientists’ work has had lasting impact, increasing and deepening our understanding of sub-Antarctic ecosystems,” Dr Fenton said.

Dr Bennett’s pioneering research on tidal zone species on Macquarie Island provided an early understanding of the island’s coastal ecosystems.

Ms Macpherson’s work on marine invertebrates laid the foundations for her later ground-breaking work on molluscs in southern Australia.

Dr Gillham’s studies analysed the effects of seabirds on the island's vegetation, while Ms Ingham’s scientific papers on southern elephant seals provided some of the earliest studies of their colonies on the island.

“Naming the lakes after these trail-blazing women will hopefully inspire other young women who might be interested in pursuing a career in science,”Dr Fenton said.

The lakes are located at the northern end of Macquarie Island (see map).

The names were recommended by Australia’s Antarctic Place Names Committee to the Nomenclature Board of Tasmania, to formally recognise the scientific contributions of these women.

Australian Antarctic Place Names Committee

Naming honour for former station leader

A lake south-west of Tussock Point on Macquarie Island (see map) has been named after former Station Leader, Louise Crossley. The Australian Antarctic Place Names Committee recommended to the Nomenclature Board of Tasmania that Dr Crossley’s significant contribution to the Australian Antarctic Program be formally recognised.

Louise Crossley (1942–2015) was an eminent Tasmanian scientist, community leader, environmentalist and author, whose leadership supported scientific work in Antarctica and at sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

Graduating from Cambridge University with a science degree, she worked as a research assistant at various universities in the United States and Australia. In 1980, she gained her PhD in the history and philosophy of science at the University of New South Wales.

Following her career working in a variety of roles as a science educationalist, in 1991 Dr Crossley was appointed Station Leader at Mawson station; the second woman to lead an Australian Antarctic station. She also served as Station Leader at Macquarie Island in 2000, and again in 2003, supporting the successful feral cat eradication program.

Highly respected for her inclusive leadership style, Dr Crossley was a role model for women working in extreme environments.

A passionate advocate for the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic, she continued to pursue her love of the Southern Ocean region by working as a specialist lecturer on tourist voyages to Antarctica until 2011.

Australian Antarctic Place Names Committee