Isabel Clifton Cookson, examining portion of a Japanese “zero” fuel tank. Australia War Memorial Archives, Image 136506. This image is in the public domain.

Isabel Clifton Cookson was born in 1893 in Australia and spent much of her professional life there. She studied botany and zoology at university, then specialised in fossil plants and pollen (palaeobotany and palynology).

Between 1926 and 1927, Cookson worked at the University of Manchester with  W. H. Lang, who named the fossil genus Cooksonia in her honour.

During WWII Cookson used her skills with a microscope to study enemy technology (see photo).

In collaboration with Professor W. H. Lang, she published numerous important papers about early vascular plants from the Silurian and Early Devonian of Australia. During the 1940s, she began working with miospores and dinoflagellates from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic of Australia.

Despite her major achievements, she did not advance beyond Senior Lecturer within academia, although in 1949 she became leader of a new pollen research laboratory. Since 1976, The Isabel Cookson Awardis given to the student who delivers the best contributed paper in paleobotany or palynology at the annual meeting of the Botanical Society of America.

Written by Fernanda Castano (@ferwen)

Edited by Becky (@LeMoustier)

Posted by Suzie (@suzie_birch)

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