Betty Batham

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Elizabeth Joan Batham (2 December 1917 – 8 July 1974) was a New Zealand marine biologist and university lecturer. A past president of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Batham directed the Portobello Marine Biological Station at the University of Otago for more than 23 years.


Batham was born in Dunedin, New Zealand on 2 December 1917. She graduated from the University of Otago, where she later taught and conducted research.[1] She went to the University of Cambridge for doctoral studies, where she researched the sea anemone and worked as an assistant to zoologist Carl Pantin.[1] In 1947, Batham won the Royal Society of New Zealand's Hamilton Memorial Prize, which recognizes outstanding work by an early-career researcher.[2]

In 1951, after the University of Otago took over the fisheries facility that became known as the Portobello Marine Biological Station, Batham was named its director and served there for 23 years.[3] She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1962.[4] and served a term as president of the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society.[1]

Batham began scuba diving later in her career, believing it to be important to her work. Shortly after stepping down from her post at Portobello due to poor health, she disappeared near the shore of Seatoun in July 1974. She is presumed to have drowned in a scuba diving accident.[5]

In 2004, the University of Otago Department of Marine Science established the Elizabeth Batham Prize in Marine Science.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Jillett, John. "Elizabeth Joan Batham". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 23 April 2017. 
  2. ^ "Hamilton Memorial Prize". Royal Society of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "History of Marine Science at the University of Otago". University of Otago. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  4. ^ 2000 Academy Yearbook. Royal Society of New Zealand. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  5. ^ Truesdale, Frank (1993). History of Carcinology. CRC Press. pp. 192–193. ISBN 9054101377. Retrieved 8 December 2014.