Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Katsuko Saruhashi (22 March 1920 – 29 September 2007) was a Japanese geochemist who created tools that let her take some of the first measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in seawater.  Saruhashi is renowned for her groundbreaking research as a geochemist. She was the first to accurately measure the concentration of carbonic acid in water based on temperature, pH Level, and chlorinity. Named ‘Saruhashi’s Table’ after her, this methodology has proved invaluable to oceanographers everywhere. She also developed a technique to trace the travel of radioactive fallout across the oceans that led to restricting oceanic nuclear experimentation in 1963.

Life and Career

Saruhashi was born in Tokyo on 22 March 1920. Saruhashi was interested in science from a young age and pursued her studies at Toho University, where she earned a degree in chemistry in 1943. She then went on to study at the Imperial University of Tokyo, where she earned a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1957.

Saruhashi’s research focused on the study of oceanic chemistry, specifically the measurement of carbon dioxide levels in seawater. Her work helped to establish the concept of ocean acidification and its effects on marine life.

In addition to her scientific contributions, Saruhashi was a passionate advocate for gender equality in science. She founded the Saruhashi Prize in 1981, which is awarded annually to outstanding female scientists in the natural sciences.

Saruhashi also served as the first female member of the Science Council of Japan and was appointed as the president of the Geochemical Society of Japan. In 1990, she became the first woman to receive the prestigious Miyake Prize for geochemistry.

Throughout her career, Saruhashi faced discrimination and obstacles due to her gender. However, she persevered and continued to push for greater opportunities for women in science.

Katsuko Saruhashi passed away on 29 September 2007, at the age of 87.

Award and Legacy

Her legacy continues to inspire women in the fields of science and the environment. She has received numerous awards:

  • 1958 – established the Society of Japanese Women Scientists to promote women in the sciences and contribute to world peace.
  • 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.

On 22 March 2018, Google celebrated Katsuko Saruhashi’s 98th Birthday with a doodle.

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