Patricia Selkirk (CONNELL) PhD
1960 - 1963
Terrestrial scientist Dr Patricia Selkirk was awarded the Australian Antarctic Medal in 2004. Patricia has been a member of 17 Antarctic expeditions since 1979, and has spent a total of 25 months in the harsh conditions of the Antarctic and sub Antarctic, particularly on Macquarie Island, the World Heritage listed site 1500 km south-east of Tasmania. Patricia says that although the climate can be inhospitable, “the science is fascinating and the scenery is beautiful. It’s wild and wonderful.”
Patricia’s research has been broad ranging, from landscape level geomorphology and vegetation history, to organism-level studies of plant reproduction and sub-cellular genetics. This research has formed much of the foundation for sub Antarctic plant biology. She was part of the team that first discovered plant viruses in the sub Antarctic and was the first researcher to value the role of the sub Antarctic region in monitoring climate change.
Patricia’s position as senior research fellow at Macquarie University enables her to mentor young Antarctic scientists, and the award of the Antarctic Medal acknowledges her trail-blazer status as woman scientist. However, she is quick to note the positive changes in women’s position in science over the course of her career: “Things have come a long way in 25 years and I think people now accept a woman as part of an expedition on the basis of their expertise and who they are, rather than the fact they are male or female.”
From the Women’s College Journal, 2005