Helen Megaw

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Helen Megaw
Photo of Helen Megaw, wearing glasses and leaning over a piece of lab equipment
Megaw circa 1950
Born (1907-06-01)1 June 1907
Died 26 February 2002(2002-02-26) (aged 94)
Ballycastle, County Antrim
Nationality Irish
Alma mater Queen's University, Belfast, Girton College
Thesis  (1934)
Doctoral advisor J. D. Bernal
Known for Crystallographer who determined the structure of ice crystals and the Perovskite crystal structure.
Notable awards The Roebling Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America. Megaw Island and the mineral Megawite (CaSnO3) are named after her.

Helen Dick Megaw (1 June 1907 – 26 February 2002)[1] was an Irish crystallographer who was a pioneer in X-ray crystallography.[2] She made measurements of the cell dimensions of ice and established the Perovskite crystal structure.

Education and career[edit]

Megaw studied at Queen's University, Belfast before moving to Girton College to study Natural Sciences in 1926. In her early career Megaw studied crystallography under J. D. Bernal[2] and was awarded her PhD in 1934.[3] Her first book, "Ferroelectricity in Crystals" was published in 1957.[2] It was followed by a second book, 'Crystal Structures: a Working Approach' in 1973.[3]

Legacy and honors[edit]

In recognition of her work in determining the structures of ice crystals, Megaw Island in the Southern Ocean is named for her. Megawite (CaSnO3), a perovskite-group mineral, is also named after her.[4]

In 1989, Megaw became the first woman to receive the Roebling Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America.


  1. ^ A. M. Glazer, "Megaw, Helen Dick (1907–2002)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/76773
  2. ^ a b c "Helen Dick Megaw (1907 - 2002): Mineralogist". The Dictionary of Ulster Biography. Retrieved 2012-10-20. 
  3. ^ a b Personal papers of Helen Megaw
  4. ^ "Megawite, CaSnO3: a new perovskite-group mineral from skarns of the Upper Chegem caldera, Kabardino-Balkaria, Northern Caucasus, Russia". Mineralogical Magazine. 75 (5). October 2011. doi:10.1180/minmag.2011.075.5.2563. Retrieved 2012-10-20. 

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