Katsuko Saruhashi a shy, introvert, trailblazer!

‘Google’ honours Katsuko Saruhashi, for her incredible work as a Geochemist.

Katsuko Saruhashi had a fascination about raindrops as a child and turned her curiosity to studying acid rain and its effects in the 1970s and 1980s.
Often described as a shy, introverted little girl, this Japanese geochemist made some of the first measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in seawater which proved the dangers of radioactive fallouts in the seawater and atmosphere, due to the US nuclear testing ground in the Pacific.

Her groundbreaking work was a credit to her resistance of the social norm where in Japan, at that time, women were not encouraged to pursue careers as scientists and many other career paths.

Saruhashi became the first woman to earn a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Tokyo in 1957. Her ground breaking work as a Geo chemist, led to the honour of being named to the Science Council of Japan and was the first woman to have received Japan’s Miyake Prize for geochemistry.

Despite her academic accolades, her work work as a Geo chemist and the discovery of the high levels of carbon dioxide did not come without contention.

Saruhashi was left with no option  but to take a 6 month sabbatical from the Central Meteorological Observatory, whilst the US Atomic Energy Commission funded a cross examination of her work which ultimately proved that her measurements of the CO2 levels were the same as theirs.

She became an advocate for female scientists, encouraging more presence within the field and has been celebrated for her support to women in science.

There is an annual award aptly named the ‘Saruhashi Prize’, which each year, is given to a female researcher in the natural sciences. This award recognises women scientists under 50 for exceptional research accomplishments and for mentoring of other women scientists.

Thank you Katsuko Saruhashi for your incredible contribution to science.


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