Public Lecture - Department of Geography and Earth Sciences

'A Life in Fresh Water'

Kathleen Carpenter (1891-1970), a pioneering freshwater ecologist at Aberystwyth University

Keynote Speaker: Dr Catherine Duigan

Date: Monday 7th March 2016

18.00 - Complimentary refreshments  - 'Think Tank', Floor B

18.30 - Public lecture - A6 Lecture Theatre

Venue: Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Llandinam Building, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth University, SY23 3DB

Further Information

Kathleen Carpenter made biological history in her lifetime, but her story has not been told in full before now. This lecture will honour her scientific achievements, consider the challenges this exceptional woman must have faced in the course of her career and recognise her as a role model for young female scientists today.

Dr Kathleen Carpenter was the mother of freshwater ecology in the English speaking world.  Following her pioneering freshwater MSc and PhD research at Aberystwyth University, she authored the first freshwater ecology textbook in English – Life in Inland Waters (1928).  Her work and writings are inspirational, combining scientific detail and dedication, with a very obvious love for freshwater environments and their biota. 

She held research and teaching positions at three US universities, including Radcliffe College (the female Harvard), before returning to complete her career at Liverpool University. Dr Carpenter made a number of notable scientific contributions to the field of freshwater ecology, which included describing the different natural zones in rivers, recognising the adaptations of the biota to running water and the importance of temperature and completing one of the first detailed studies of the diet of young salmon. She documented the presence of glacial relict species in Britain and illustrated the profound impact of mine waste water on local Welsh rivers, research which staff at Aberystwyth continue to build on to this day.

This lecture forms part of a programme of activities at Aberystwyth University marking International Women's Day.

This event is free to attend and open to all.

For queries regarding this event, please contact

About the Speaker

This lecture will be given by Dr Catherine Duigan and has been co-authored with Dr Warren Kovach.

‌Dr Catherine Duigan was born in Ireland and educated at University College Dublin where she worked on zooplankton in Irish lakes for her PhD thesis.  Her international research background has included working in the USA, France, and Africa.  She was a post-doctoral researcher at Aberystwyth University and a University of Wales Fellow reconstructing the past environments of lakes in the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco.  She has served on the Council of the Freshwater Biological Association and provided advice to the Natural Environment Research Council.  Catherine is currently leading a group of technical specialists covering aquatic and terrestrial environments at Natural Resources Wales in Bangor.  As an honorary lecturer at Bangor University she contributes to teaching modules on freshwater ecology. She is also a STEM Ambassador.

Dr Warren Kovach was born in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and educated at Hiram College, Ohio and Indiana University, Bloomington, where he received a PhD in palaeobotany and palaeoecology. He was subsequently a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at Aberdeen University and a researcher at Aberystwyth University. In 1992 he formed Kovach Computing Services.

Catherine Duigan and Warren Kovach have published scientific studies together, including the current UK lake classification used in conservation assessments. Catherine has produced several papers on Welsh freshwater environments, including writing and co-editing The River of Wales book.  Warren is also a local history writer, having developed web sites and published books about the history of the Isle of Anglesey and the Menai Bridges.