145. Kathleen Carpenter – freshwater ecologist
Dr David Wilcockson

Kathleen E Carpenter

Born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire in 1891, Kathleen Carpenter entered University College of Wales Aberystwyth in 1907.

UCW Aberystwyth’s Charter had equal access to degrees and was one of the first to have all-female halls of residence. After graduating with a BSc in 1910, she subsequently obtained an MSc and PhD degrees focusing on the environmental impact of metal pollution on Cardiganshire streams.

Lead and zinc mines have polluted the Rheidol and Ystwyth rivers in contrast to the relatively clean Teifi and Dyfi rivers. Her meticulous sampling protocol enabled her to produce the first detailed assessment of British running water fauna.

She combined chemistry with biology and proved that metallic salts could suffocate minnows, trout, and sticklebacks, and that the mollusc Ancylus fluviatilis and Trichoptera larvae had disappeared from the Teifi within a year of a mine recommencing mining activities. She also highted the socioeconomic benefit of fresh waters.

Kathleen Carpenter later worked as a lecturer in Canada and the USA and finally at the University of Liverpool, producing one of the first detailed studies of the diet of young salmon from the River Dee.

Kathleen Carpenter, died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in 1970.

News: 'A Life in Fresh Water'

The Biologist - Who was... Kathleen Carpenter?

Dictionary of Welsh Biography - Kathleen Carpenter

Friends of the Earth Cymru - Why more of us should know about Kathleen Carpenter

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Further Information

Dr David Wilcockson

Academic Department

Department of Life Sciences