Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rachel Louise Carson

  1. Carson was born on 27 May 1907 to Maria Frazier (McLean) and Robert Warden Carson, an insurance salesman at Springdale, Pennsylvania, just up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh.
    Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. Official photo as FWS employee. c. 1940. (wikipedia)
  2. Carson attended Springdale's small school through tenth grade, graduated in 1925 at the top of her class of forty-five high school students in nearby Parnassus, Pennsylvania, originally studied English but switched her major to biology in January 1928 and due to financial reasons was forced to remain at the Pennsylvania College for Women (today known as Chatyham University) and later on graduated magna cum laude in 1929.
  3. Carson took a summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratory and continued her studies in zoology and genetics at Johns Hopkins in the fall of 1929 and became a part-time student assistant in Raymond Pearl's laboratory working with rats and Drosophila for her tuition, completed a dissertation project on the embryonic development of the pronephros in fish and earned a master's degree in zoology in June 1932.
  4. Carson intended to continue for a doctorate but was forced to leave Johns Hopkins in 1934 for a full-time teaching position due to family reasons and in 1935, her father died suddenly making financial situations more difficult while she took care of her aging mother.
  5. Carson got a temporary position at the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries at the urging of her undergraduate biology mentor Mary Scott Skinker and her temporary task was to managed fifty-two seven-minute programs series entitled "Romance Under the Waters" that focused on aquatic life and was intended to generate public interest in fish biology which was never done by several writers before her.
  6. Carson outscored all other civil service exam applicants when she took it and became the second woman to be hired by the Bureau of Fisheries for a full-time, professional position, as a junior aquatic biologist in 1936.
  7. Carson wrote five books with the last one posthumously published. The titles of these books are as follows: 1) Under the Sea-wind - first edition was in 1941, Carson’s first book and her personal favorite; 2) The Sea Around Us - first edition was in 1951, based on post World War II geographical and oceanographic studies of the sea, which also won the National Book Award in 1952; 3) The Edge of the Sea - first edition was in 1955, is a practical guide to identifying sea inhabitants; 4) Silent Spring - first edition was in 1962,demonstrated pesticides could cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly to birds; and 5) The Sense of Wonder - published posthumously, Carson's philosophy about adults and their child's inborn sense of wonder about the natural world.
  8. The book "Silent Spring" led to a worldwide ban of DDT, a colourless and crystalline organochloride with insecticidal properties, and pesticides which was formalized under the Stockholm Convention, but its limited use in disease vector control continues to this day and remains controversial.
  9. Carson was also credited with being an inspiration for the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency which is a US government agency focused on protecting human health and the environment.
  10. Carson died on 14 April 1964 at the age of 56 due to heart attack having battled breast cancer for many years.
  11. Carson's birth centennial was on 2007 and on Earth Day last 22 April 2007, the "Courage for the Earth: Writers, Scientists, and Activists Celebrate the Life and Writing of Rachel Carson" was released as "a centennial appreciation of Rachel Carson's brave life and transformative writing" which was a collection of thirteen essays by prominent environmental writers and scientists.
  12. Carson was posthumously awarded on 9 June 1980 the Presidential Medal of Freedom which is the highest civilian honor in the United States.
Screenshot of Google's doodle for the Rachel Louise Carson's 107th birthday depicting her surrounded by a variety of sea creatures and birds which highlights her love for nature.
References:

Rachel Carson
The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson
Rachel Louise Carson birthday: Environmentalist author of 'Silent Spring' whose work led to pesticides ban
Google celebrates American marine biologist Rachel Louise Carson's 107th birthday with a doodle
Wild thing! Google Doodle celebrates nature author Rachel Louise Carson's birthday


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