Sheina Marshall

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Sheina Macalister Marshall

Sheina MacAlister Marshall.jpg
Born(1896-04-20)20 April 1896
Rothesay, Scotland
Died7 April 1977(1977-04-07) (aged 80)
Millport, Scotland
Cause of deathHeart attack
EducationBSc (1919), DSc (1934) University of Glasgow
Known forThe study of marine productivity, animal and plant plankton in particular the copepod Calanus
HonoursFRSE (1949), FRS (1961), OBE (1966)
Mount Stuart House

Dr Sheina Macalister Marshall OBE FRSE FRS (20 April 1896 – 7 April 1977) was a Scottish marine biologist who dedicated her life to the study of plant and animal plankton. She was an authority on the copepod Calanus. She worked at the Marine Biological Station at Millport, Cumbrae in Scotland from 1922-1964.[1][2][3][4]


Sheina Marshall was born on 20 April 1896 in Rothesay, Scotland, the second daughter of three, to Jean Colville (née Binnie, born 1861/2) and Dr John Nairn Marshall (born 1860) of Mount Stuart House.[5][6] Marshall's father, a general practitioner, had an interest in natural history and encouraged his daughters' interest in the subject.

Initially Marshall was educated by governesses, later attending Rothesay Academy and St Margaret's School in Polmont. In 1914 she entered the University of Glasgow to study for a BSc in Zoology, botany and physiology. After an interruption in her studies due to World War I she graduated with honours in 1919.[5][7] She held a Carnegie Fellowship at the University from 1920 to 1922 and worked with the professor of zoology, John Graham Kerr.[5][7]

In 1922, she took a job at the Marine Biological Station in Millport on the Isle of Cumbrae. where she worked for the rest of her life.[5][7] From 1928 to 1929 Marshall travelled with Frederick Stratten Russell and J. S. Colman on the Great Barrier Reef Expedition led by Maurice Yonge.[8]

Marshall studied the marine food chain, in particular copepods. It became her life's work. She collaborated for almost 40 years with the chemist, Andrew Picken Orr. Together they studied the plankton and phytoplankton in and around the river Clyde and Loch Striven. They authored several books and many papers together.[5]

In 1934 Marshall received a DSc from the University of Glasgow.[4][7]

In the 1940s she researched seaweeds around Britain as a source of agar and examined the effect of fertilizers on marine productivity at Loch Craiglin.[5]

In 1949 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, one of the few female Fellows. Her proposers were Sir John Graham Kerr, James Ritchie, Sir Maurice Yonge, Charles Wynford Parsons and Andrew Orr. In 1963 she was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.[9]

She retired as Deputy Director of the Station in 1964, but remained there as an Honorary Fellow.[7]

Between 1970 and 1971 she attended at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the USA and visited the Villefranche-sur-Mer Marine Station in France 1974. In 1987 she published a history of the Marine Station.[10]

Outside her work she enjoyed walking, foreign travel, needlework, poetry and music. She was considered hospitable, dignified and generous.[11]

She died of a heart attack at Lady Margaret Hospital, Millport, Cumbrae on 7 April 1977.[5] She bequeathed her house at Millport to the Directors of Millport.[11]


Her sisters were Margaret Marshall OBE, Matron at Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary and Dorothy Nairn Marshal MBE, a museum curator on Bute.[11]


In 1949 Marshall, along with Ethel Dobbie Currie, became the first women to be elected Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and received its Neill Prize in 1971. In 1961 she became a Fellow of the Royal Society. She was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1966.[5][7] In 1977 she received an honorary degree from the University of Uppsala, in Sweden.[5]

The teaching building at Scottish Association for Marine Science at Dunbeg was named in her honour in 2010.


Marshall wrote over 60 scientific articles.[12]

  • 'The Food of Calanus finmarchicus during 1923', Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, Vol. 12 (1924), 473-79.
  • On the Biology of Calanus finmarchicus. VIII., 1955 (with Andrew Picken Orr)
  • The Biology of a Marine Copepod, 1955 (with Andrew Picken Orr)
  • 'Respiration and Feeding in Copepods', Advances in Marine Biology, 1973
  • An account of the Marine Station at Millport, 1987


  1. ^ Russell, Frederick (1978). "Sheina Macalister Marshall. 20 April 1896 – 7 April 1977". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 24: 368–389. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1978.0011.
  2. ^ Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783-2002: Biographical Index (PDF). II. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  3. ^ Charles H. Smith, Chrono-biographical sketch: Sheina M. Marshall, 2005. Accessed 18 December 2011.
  4. ^ a b Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey; Harvey, Joy Dorothy (2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science. Taylor & Francis. pp. 846–847. ISBN 9780415920407.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Deacon, Margaret (2004). "Sheina Marshall". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/53916. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  6. ^ 'Dr Sheina Marshall', The Times, 15 April 1977
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Sheina Marshall". The University of Glasgow Story. Glasgow, Scotland: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  8. ^ Great Barrier Reef Expedition, 1928-29: scientific reports, 1932.
  9. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0 902 198 84 X.
  10. ^ Marshall, Sheina M; University Marine Biological Station (1987-01-01). An account of the Marine Station at Millport. University Marine Biological Station.
  11. ^ a b c Ewan, Elizabeth; Innes, Sue; Reynolds, Sian (2006). The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women: From the Earliest Times to 2004. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 254–255. ISBN 9780748617135.
  12. ^ Biography of Sheina Marshall at the University of Glasgow.

Further reading[edit]

  • Elizabeth Ewan, Sue Innes, Sian Reynolds, Rose Pipes, eds., The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
  • 'Marshall, Sheina Macalister', in Catherine M. C. Haines, ed., International women in science: a biographical dictionary to 1950, ABC-CLIO, 2001, pp. 201–2

External links[edit]