Katsuko Saruhashi

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Katsuko Saruhashi
Katsuko Saruhashi.jpg
BornMarch 22, 1920
Tokyo, Japan
DiedSeptember 29, 2007(2007-09-29) (aged 87)
Tokyo, Japan
NationalityJapanese
Alma materImperial Women's College of Science (predecessor of Toho University)
University of Tokyo
Known forDiscovery of the dangers of radioactive fallout in seawater and the atmosphere
AwardsAvon Special Prize for Women (1981)

Miyake Prize for Geochemistry (1985)

Tanaka Prize of the Society of Sea Water Sciences (1993)
Scientific career
FieldsGeochemistry
InstitutionsMeteorological Research Institute
Japan Meteorological Agency
InfluencedThe mentorship and status of many Japanese women scientists by her establishment of the Saruhashi Prize and her many firsts

Katsuko Saruhashi (猿橋 勝子, Saruhashi Katsuko, March 22, 1920 – September 29, 2007) was a Japanese geochemist who created tools that let her take some of the first measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in seawater. She later showed evidence in seawater and the atmosphere of the dangers of radioactive fallout and how far it can travel. Along with this focus on safety, she also researched peaceful uses of nuclear power.

Her other major area of significance involved raising the number and status of women scientists, especially in Japan. She established both the Society of Japanese Women Scientists and the Saruhashi Prize, which is given yearly to a female scientist who serves as a role model for younger women scientists.

Among her other honors, she was the first woman elected to the Science Council of Japan, to earn a doctorate in chemistry from the prestigious University of Tokyo, and to win the Miyake Prize for Geochemistry.

Education and professional life[edit]

Saruhashi was born in Tokyo. She graduated from the Imperial Women's College of Science (predecessor of Toho University) in 1943. She then joined the Meteorological Research Institute, which belonged to the Central Meteorological Observatory (the later Japan Meteorological Agency), working in its Geochemical Laboratory and eventually becoming that laboratory's executive director in 1979.

In 1950, she started studying carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in seawater. At that time, CO2 levels were not recognized as important and Saruhashi even had to develop her own methods for measuring them.[1]:53

She earned her doctorate in chemistry in 1957 from the prestigious University of Tokyo, becoming the first woman in that field of science to do so.[2]

After effects of nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll[edit]

After the US conducted Bikini Atoll nuclear tests in 1954, the Japanese government asked the Geochemical Laboratory to analyze and monitor radioactivity in the seawater and in rainfall.[2] A Japanese fishing trawler had been downwind from the tests at the time they occurred, and its crew became ill from the effects. Saruhashi found that it took 18 months for the radioactivity to reach Japan in the seawater.[2]

By 1964, the radioactivity levels showed that the seawater in both the western and eastern parts of the North Pacific Ocean had mixed completely. By 1969, the traces of radioactivity had spread throughout the Pacific Ocean. This was some of the first research showing how the effects of fallout can spread across the entire world, and not only affect the immediate area.

Later career[edit]

In the 1970s and 80s, she turned her attention to studying acid rain and its effects.

Death[edit]

Katsuko Saruhashi died September 29, 2007, of pneumonia at her home in Tokyo. She was 87.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 1958 - established the Society of Japanese Women Scientists to promote women in the sciences and contribute to world peace.[3]
  • 1979 - named executive director of the Geochemical Laboratory.
  • 1980 - first woman elected to the Science Council of Japan.
  • 1981 - won the Avon Special Prize for Women, for researching peaceful uses of nuclear power and raising the status of women scientists.
  • 1981 - established the Saruhashi Prize, given yearly to a female scientist who serves as a role model for younger women scientists.
  • 1985 - first woman to win the Miyake Prize for geochemistry.
  • 1993 - won the Tanaka Prize from the Society of Sea Water Sciences.

Saruhashi was an honorary member of the Geochemical Society of Japan and the Oceanographical Society of Japan.[1]:58

On 22 March 2018, Google displayed a Google Doodle honoring Katsuko Saruhashi on what would have been her 98th birthday.[4][5]

Quotes[edit]

"There are many women who have the ability to become great scientists. I would like to see the day when women can contribute to science and technology on an equal footing with men."[1]:56

Selected publications[edit]

Her publications include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Yount, Lisa (1996) Twentieth-Century Women Scientists, Facts On File, Inc., ISBN 0-8160-3173-8[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ a b c Yount, Lisa (2008). A to Z of women in science and math (Rev. ed.). New York: Facts On File. pp. 263–264. ISBN 978-0-8160-6695-7.[unreliable source?]
  3. ^ Robertson, Jennifer, editor (2008) A Companion to the Anthropology of Japan, John Wiley & Sons, p. 477, ISBN 140514145X
  4. ^ "Katsuko Saruhashi's 98th Birthday". www.google.com. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  5. ^ "Google is honouring a woman who helped clean the seas of nuclear bombs". The Independent. 2018-03-21. Retrieved 2018-03-22.

Further reading[edit]

  • Morell, Virginia et al. (April 16, 1993). Called 'Trimates,' three bold women shaped their field. Science, v260 n5106 p420(6).
  • "A Life Story of Saruhashi Katsuko (1920-2007)". Contemporary Japanese Feminist Debates at Penn. 2016-11-30. Retrieved 2018-03-23.