Lois M. Jones

Image: Ohio State University Birth:  1935 Death:  March 13, 2000  Specialty: Geochemist Major Contributions: Led the first team of female U.S. scientific researchers to Antarctica Part of first group of women to reach the South Pole Created Lois M. Jones Endowment for Cancer Research Fellowships at OSU

Image: Ohio State University
Birth: 1935
Death: March 13, 2000
Specialty: Geochemist
Major Contributions:
Led the first team of female U.S. scientific researchers to Antarctica
Part of first group of women to reach the South Pole
Created Lois M. Jones Endowment for Cancer Research Fellowships at OSU

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Earning her doctorate in geology from Ohio State University, Lois Jones had to settle for analyzing samples that had been collected by male colleagues. Her research focused on using strontium isotopes as natural tracers to determine the origin of the salts in the lakes and soils of the southern Victoria Land in Antarctica and at the time women were not allowed to take part in the scientific expeditions run by the U.S. Navy. In order to  evaluate the salt content of a river flowing into Lake Vanda, Jones wanted to do her own field work.

The National Science Foundation and the director of the Institute of Polar Studies at Ohio State University had been pushing for women to be able to be part of research expeditions to Antarctica but the U.S. Navy had barred women from its program. When Jones submitted her proposal for an expedition to the McMurdo dry valleys it was given funding from the NSF with the condition that the entire team be composed of women. The Navy finally agreed to support this first female research team on the condition that they would spend the majority of their time doing field research and not living at McMurdo station.

The team, led by Jones, included entomologist Kay Lindsay, geologist Eileen McSaveney, and undergraduate chemistry major Terry Tickhill, arrived in November of 1969. Wanting an aerial view of the geology of the team’s work location, Jones had asked to join a supply flight to the South Pole. In a bit of a publicity stunt the Navy decided to take all seven women in Antarctica to the pole, though one declined as it would interrupt her work, so Jones’ team along with a reporter and a New Zealander biologist were flown to the pole. When the plane landed the six women linked arms and together became the first women to set foot on the South Pole.

Camping for four months in the Wright Valley, the team collected data and rock specimens returning to Ohio State to analyze their samples and produced numerous publications on their findings.

Written by Angela Goad

Sources:

Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center: How did the first all-woman scientific team from the United States come to work in Antarctica?

South Pole Station: First Women At Pole

OhioLINK: Biography of Lois M. Jones

OSU Alumni Association: Moving science forward, An all-female team bound for Antarctica in 1969 felt compelled to get it right.

See Also:

The Isotope Composition of Strontium and Cation Concentrations of Lake Vanda and Lake Bonney in Southern Victoria Land, Antarctica

Women Working In Antarctica