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Scott, Katherine Marjorie Frances (née
biologist and later freshwater biologist who specialised in caddisflies
list of publications
Trichoptera taxa described
|19 Jan 1913
||Educated at Rustenburg High
||Awarded a B.Sc. at the
University of Cape Town with majors in Zoology, Botany and Geology.
||Took part in University of Cape
Town coastal surveys under the direction of Professor T.A. Stephenson.
||Obtained an M.Sc. with first
class honours from the University of Cape Town.
||Married Richard Thring Scott.
They lived in the Argentine for three years until just after the start of
World War II.
||Daughter Anne born.
||Obtained a Ph.D. in marine
ecology at University of Cape Town (UCT). Her Ph.D. thesis was entitled
"The South African intertidal zone and its relation to ocean
currents; two areas on the southern and northern parts of the West Coast
||Daughter Patricia born
||Worked for a period in the
Department of Zoology at University of Cape Town and later at the Huguenot
University College at Wellington.
||Temporary lecturer in Zoology at
UCT, under Professor John Day.
||Husband Richard died at the age
||Worked as a research assistant
at the National Institute of Water Research (CSIR). This started off her
career in freshwater biology where she developed a specialisation in the caddisflies
||Granted a CSIR Senor Bursary.
||Appointed to the National
Institute of Water Research (NIWR) as a Research Officer.
||Transferred to Grahamstown in
the Eastern Cape where she directed a NIWR Research Unit which later
||Transferred to the Albany Museum
to take charge of the NIWR Collection of Freshwater Organisms, later to
become the National Collection of Freshwater Invertebrates of which she
||Retired from the NIWR, based at
the Albany Museum, by which time she was a Senior Chief Research Officer.
Continued her research on caddisflies in retirement.
||Awarded the Gold Medal of the
Limnological Society of South Africa (now known as the South African
Society of Aquatic Scientists) in recognition of her tremendous
contribution to the furtherance of knowledge in the aquatic sciences.
|26 April 1998
||Died in Grahamstown at the age
Katherine Marjorie Frances Scott (nee Bright), known as
Marjorie or Doc Scott to friends and colleagues, was the daughter of Henry
Hepburn Bright, of the South African Harbourboard and later farmer, and
Wilhemine Henrietta Anna Bleek, daughter of Dr W H I Bleek the well-known
philologist who pioneered studies on Bushman languages in the Cape.
The Bleek family played a major role in Marjorie's early development,
particularly since her aunt, Dorothea Bleek was a part of their household. This
was a family with a strong tradition of respect for Scientific endeavor in which
women were encouraged to learn and achieve. All three of WHI Bleek's daughters
were sent to Germany and Switzerland to further their education: Dorothea
specialised in linguistics and anthropology, Margaret studied medicine and
Marjorie's mother, Wilhemine, studied music and later went on to become a
concert-pianist. The work of the Bleek family (Marjorie's grandfather, WHI
Bleek, great-aunt Lucy Lloyd and her aunt, Dorothea Bleek) today forms the
foundation of most studies done on San languages and traditions and is of
immense value to anthropology and archaeology in South Africa.
This is the background which shaped Marjorie Scott: her meticulous attention to
detail and the energy and dedication which she brought to bear on the pursuit of
her goals all stem from a strong tradition of the pursuit of scientific
excellence. Marjorie's fascination with her work never faltered and she worked
steadily, five days a week at the Albany Museum, right up until a few months
before her death at the age of 85.
Marjorie Scott was educated at Rustenburg High School, Rondebosch, and the
University of Cape Town (UCT), where she was awarded a BSc with Zoology, Botany
and Geology majors in 1933. She obtained an MSc with First Class Honours in 1934
and in 1939 a PhD in marine ecology. Her PhD thesis was entitled "The South
African Intertidal Zone and its relation to Ocean currents; two areas on the
southern and northern parts of the West Coast respectively".
While a student at UCT Marjorie was introduced to marine biology by Professor, T
A Stephenson, a Fellow of the Royal Society and an international figure in the
biological world. Intertidal ecology became Marjorie's initial speciality and
between 1932 and 1936 she took part in many of the coastal surveys carried out
under Stephenson's direction, becoming personally involved in those of the Cape
Peninsula (particularly at Oudekraal and in False Bay), Port Nolloth, Still Bay,
Port Elizabeth and Durban.
Before she left UCT Marjorie was offered a Junior Lectureship in the Zoology
Department, but could not accept as she had married Richard Thring Scott early
in 1937 and the couple left for the Argentine where they lived for three years
until just after the start of World War II. Marjorie did not work in the field
during this period, but became interested in birdlife and also noted the
remarkable similarity (in zonation and faunal types) between the South American
and South African intertidal regions. Marjorie's oldest daughter, Anne, was born
during this period and a second daughter, Patricia, was born at Newlands, Cape,
later during the war.
After returning to South Africa at the beginning of the second world war,
Marjorie worked for a period in the Department of Zoology at UCT and later at
the Huguenot University College at Wellington. The family then returned to Cape
Town, where Marjorie held a Temporary Lectureship, under Professor John Day,
from 1947 to 1951. During this period her research switched to estuaries, and
she was involved in two estuarine surveys (on the Klein River Lake Estuary at
Hermanus and the Diep River and Riet Vlei at Milnerton). During this period she
also carried out research on the marine Polyzoa - a very interesting, but
frustrating study since the world systematics of the group was in a state of
In February 1951 Marjorie suffered the loss of her husband, Richard, who died as
a result of a coronary thrombosis at the age of 59 when their two daughters,
Anne and Patricia, were only twelve and nine years old respectively. This loss
co-incided with another change in career: Marjorie obtained a post at the
National Institute of Water Research (CSIR) where she worked as a Research
Assistant until 1955, after which she was granted a CSIR Senior Bursary. In May
1958 she was appointed to the NIWR staff as a Research Officer, and remained
with the NIWR, (where she was later appointed as a Senior Chief Research
Officer) until her retirement at the end of 1978.
The move to the CSIR resulted in a change of research-emphasis towards fresh
water biology. Her initial field of interest, influenced by her active
involvement in Arthur Harrison's survey of the Great Berg River, was in
freshwater ecology. Due to the tenuous state of systematics in this field, it
was perhaps inevitable that as she progressed in this study Marjorie would find
herself increasingly drawn into taxonomic studies - firstly of adult
Chironomidae and later of both larval and adult Trichoptera. The systematics of
the latter group gradually became her main field of study, although this did
often encompass associated studies of the general biology and ecology of
selected species. While in the Western Cape her studies centred mainly on the
Berg River, but included parts of the Breede, the Witte and the Palmiet Rivers
and some of their tributaries.
In 1963 Marjorie was transferred to Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, where she
directed a NIWR Research Unit which included Mark Chutter, Bella Cholnoky,
Archie Archibald and Henry Welsh. This team carried out surveys of the Sundays
and Fish Rivers, and also paid attention to the small hill streams near
Grahamstown and the Hogsback (near Alice in the Eastern Cape). Having completed
the surveys, the Unit later gradually disbanded.
In February 1972 Marjorie was transferred to the Albany Museum to take charge of
the NIWR Collection of Freshwater Organisms. To that collection initially were
added the Albany Museum collections, mainly comprising several smaller
collections and a very large number of Dytiscid beetles collected by Professors
Joe and Joyce Omer-Cooper in Europe and various parts of Africa, from the Cape
to the Sudan. The collection then became the National Collection of Freshwater
Invertebrates of which she was curator until she retired in December 1978.
Over the years the National Collection of Freshwater Invertebrates has grown
substantially as a result of direct collecting by museum personel and donations
from other workers. As Curator Marjorie continued research on the Trichoptera,
although much of her time was taken up in other necessary tasks, such as
curation, the exchange of material with other museums and in building up the
library of books and reprints.
"Retirement" gave Marjorie the opportunity to devote more of her time to the
study of Trichoptera, and despite several illnesses, she has continued her work
of identifying collections from as far afield as Kenya and Ethiopia. Several new
papers were published during this period including monographs on Hydropsychidae
and on three endemic South African families of Trichoptera published in 1978 and
1993 respectively. A comparative study of these families with other
closely-related families around the world was also completed in 1993. At the
time of her death Marjorie was working together with the author on a text book
of Trichopteran identification. All this work was done on a voluntary basis as
an Honorary Research Associate of the Albany Museum.
In addition to the solid scientific value of her written papers, it must also be
noted that Marjorie was a brilliant scientific illustrator and she has left a
legacy of drawings which are scientifically accurate and aesthetically pleasing.
I have had the honour of being able to work with and learn from Marjorie since
my appointment as Curator of Freshwater Invertebrates at the Albany Museum in
1984. It has been an great priviledge to have such a person as a mentor, and I
have benefitted immeasurably from her vast store of knowledge, particularly in
the field of Trichoptera systematics. I will remember Marjorie for her deep
knowledge and understanding of the Afrotropical Trichoptera and for her
meticulous attention to detail. Her well organised laboratory with its excellent
card index system which allows for rapid access to specimens, reprints,
illustrations and species descriptions, remains a tangible record of the
enormous amount of work which she has undertaken. In her systematic work
Marjorie has created order out of chaos and her work has laid a solid foundation
for further studies in this field. Her passing also represents a personal loss
of a friend and colleague whose guidance and inspiration will be sorely missed.
In the early 1950's Marjorie was elected to Membership of
the Royal Society of South Africa and joined the South African Association for
the Advancement of Science (S2A3) and also the South African Ornithological
Society (SAOS). She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa in
1970, and became a Life Member of the S2A3 about the same time. Marjorie was on
the Cape Town Committee of SAOS for some years, resigning from that society
later and joining the Diaz Bird Club when in the Eastern Cape. She was elected a
Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London in 1953, and sadly had to
resign for financial reasons in 1987. She joined the British Freshwater
Biological Association in 1962, later becoming a Life member. She joined the
Zoological Society in 1965, when it started, but resigned many years later
because her interests no longer lay in that direction. She is a Foundation
member of the Limnological Society of South Africa (LSSA) (1963) and edited its
Newsletter for about seven years and was offered its first Honorary Life
Membership in 1979. Marjorie was invited to attend the 28th Congress of the
South African Society of Aquatic Scientists in 1991 and was awarded jointly,
with F C de Moor and H M Barber as co-authors, for the best poster paper
presentation at the Congress. In 1992 she was elected as a member of the
advisory board of the International Trichoptera Newsletter, Braueria. This was a
great honour as the board represents members from Mexico, The United Kingdom,
The USA, Bulgaria, Austria, Germany, Italy, Australia, Canada, France, Japan and
of course also South Africa.
In November 1993 Marjorie was awarded the Gold Medal of the
Limnological Society of South Africa (now known as the South African Society of
Aquatic Scientists, SASAQS) in recognition of her tremendous contribution to the
furtherance of knowledge in the aquatic sciences.