Day 3 of our challenge to identify all the Raising Horizons women… and here is our next pairing!
Dorothea Bate and Professor Anjali Goswami
It takes some guts to walk up to the premier research institution in the world and demand a job while still in your teens, but this is what Dorothea Bate did. However, she knew her stuff, and despite the Natural History Museum of 1898 being a woman-free zone, she was accepted to work on their collections, and later began to do her own ground-breaking field research.
Among her many discoveries, Dorothea is known for her Mediterranean fieldwork, which was not only extraordinarily adventurous for the time (solo trekking, swimming to caves, dynamiting…), but also resulted in many key discoveries of incredible “island fauna”, animal species unique to the islands and with unusual adaptations. As well as dwarf hippos and elephants, she also discovered the strange Myotragus, an extinct goat, which had forward-facing eyes, large rodent-like incisors and was probably ‘cold blooded’ like reptiles. She remained a world expert in fossil mammals for her whole career, but was also a keen interdisciplinary collaborator, teaching and working with several other trowelblazers of her era including Dorothy Garrod and Gertrude Caton Thompson. Yet for the majority of her career she was forced to continue on temporary contracts; finally she was given a full position just before she turned 70, some 50 years after starting at the Museum, and she died three years later with a list of publications still to do on her desk.
Our contemporary woman is linked to Dorothea through an interest in the evolution of mammals, including how their morphology changes over time. She also presents an example of how Dorothea’s career might have gone, had she been permitted to hold proper positions and progress within academia. Anjali Goswami is a Professor in Palaeobiology at UCL, and runs her own laboratory, the Goswami lab.
Like Dorothea, Anjali is an expert in mammalian palaeontology. Her research focuses on varied aspects of the evolution and development of diversity in forms and adaptations in mammals, especially marsupials, carnivores, and early placental mammals (eutherians), but also those living today. She uses multiple apporaches including morphometrics, 3D scanning and imaging, embryology, and genetics, and has done fieldwork in Svalbard, India, Madagascar, the US and South America. Anjali is a member of the editorial boards for Biology Letters, Evolution Letters, Paleobiology, and Palaeontology, Member-at-Large on the Executive Council for the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology, and a fellow of the Linnean Society of London. In 2016 she won their Bicentennary Medal, awarded to to a biologist under the age of 40 years in recognition of excellent work.
Written by Becky