International Women’s Day: 2019

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Today is a great chance to remind ourselves of all the women who have contributed to science, technology, engineering and mathematics throughout their various histories and who may have been forgotten somewhere along the way.


Dr Hilda Phoebe Hudson (1881-1965)

Dr Hilda Hudson was born in Cambridge to a mathematical family, her father W.H.H. Hudson was Professor of Mathematics at King’s College, London and her mother an early attendee of Newnham. Between 1900 and 1904 Hudson attended Newnham herself and then the University of Berlin for a further year; she went on to have a rich academic career from positions as Lecturer and Research Fellow to Technical Assistant at a range of institutions such as Newnham, Bryn Mawr College, U.S.A, Westham Technical Institute, and for the Civil Service at the Air Ministry. She is best known for her thesis on “Cremona Transformations in Plane and Space,” a text which combined sixty to seventy years of publications on a field which had a vast research base.

Our largest collection is comprised of the papers of Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932), a British medical doctor who is best known for discovering the link between mosquito bites and malaria, a discovery that went on to facilitate further advancements in tackling the disease. The collection includes various correspondence, manuscripts, reprints and newspaper cuttings collected by Ross.

Published in 1917; An Application of the Theory of Probabilities to the Study of a Priori Pathometry – Part I (Ross/163/11/03), Part II (Ross/163/11/03) and Part III (Ross/163/11/04) can all be found in the Ross collection through our catalogue. Ross sought to explore the role of statistics and probability in the development and spread of disease. For this investigation to get under way Ross needed some mathematical expertise to combine with his own proficiency in medicine, leading him to seek the talents of Dr Hilda Hudson. Part II and Part III of the publication see Hudson listed as a joint author and page 213 of Part II demonstrates the value Ross placed on Hudson’s assistance.

“The continuation of the paper has accordingly been written in conjunction with her; and I should like to take the opportunity to express my obligations to her for her valuable assistance, especially in regard to Part III”.


Mary KingsleyMary Kingsley (1862-1900)

Mary Kingsley, a pioneering anthropologist and explorer who greatly influenced European ideas about Africa and its people and became an outspoken critic of European colonialism. She wrote a book called ‘Travels in West Africa’ in 1897, which we have a copy of in the rare books collection and she also corresponded with Sir Ronald Ross. Many members of LSHTM staff were awarded the Mary Kingsley Medal, including Sir Patrick Manson, founder of LSHTM, and Sir Andrew Balfour, First Director of the School.


Dr Jennifer Roberts

Jenny Roberts was a pioneer of Health Economics, becoming the first Health Economist at the School. Throughout her forty year career, Jenny’s research was closely linked with NHS changes and reforms, beginning with the 1974 large-scale administrative reorganisation of the NHS in England which placed all health services into regional and area health authorities.

To prepare for the reform, in 1972 the Centre for Extension Training in Community Medicine (CETCM) was created at 31 Bedford Square, in order to retrain NHS staff. It especially focussed on retraining doctors who were in medical admin moving to new roles in ‘integrated Health Service’. The Centre was funded by the DHSS (Dept.. of Health & Social Security) with Dr Roy Acheson its first Director. Jenny joined in 1973, as Senior Tutor in Health Economics. The Centre was amalgamated with the School’s Department of Community Health in 1976.

In the 1980s, Jenny researched the market-based NHS reforms, in particular looking at the links between the use of contracted-out NHS services, and the increase in Hospital Acquired Infections. She was a passionate teacher, and introduced the Health Policy, Planning and Finance MSc to the School.