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Nominate a female geologist for new £50 note

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The Geological Society of London (GSL) is campaigning for a female geologist to be featured on the new £50 note.

Earlier this month, the Bank of England announced it would be selecting a new face from the scientific community to appear on the £50 note, which has featured steam engine industrialists Matthew Boulton and James Watt since 2011.

The GSL aiming for a female geologist to be featured and is calling on people to nominate one of four suggested candidates. Members of the public can nominate as many scientists as they like, but they must be British and deceased.

In a blog post, GSL said: “Naturally, we’d love for a geologist to be the face of the £50, and there are plenty of famous faces to choose from - most of whom have something in common. Delve through the history of British geology, and unsurprisingly, you’ll find a wealth of well-known and well documented men - less so women, who were finally admitted as Fellows of the Geological Society nearly 100 years ago, in 1919.

“A female geologist on the £50 would be the perfect way to both mark the upcoming anniversary, and celebrate the enormous, and often undocumented, contribution women have made to our science. Mary Anning, perhaps the most well-known female geologist amongst the public, has been deservedly tipped as a front runner, but there are many, many other female geologists who deserve the honour.”

The GSL has listed a few ideas for female geologists that could be nominated.

  • Mary Anning, 1799 to 1847 – Self-taught palaeontologist and fossil collector, whose many discoveries led to important changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth.
  • Gertrude Lilian Elles, 1872 to 1960 - Pioneering graptolite researcher, first woman to be awarded a readership position at Cambridge, among the first GSL female Fellows and recipient of the Lyell fund and the Murchison Medal.
  • Catherine Raisin, 1855 to 1945- Leading expert in microscopic petrology and mineralogy, first female head of a geology department, first woman awarded the Lyell Fund from the Geological Society, and campaigner for equality in education.
  • Maria Matilda Gordon, 1864 to 1939- Eminent Scottish geologist, palaeontologist and politician. First woman to be awarded a Doctor of Science from University College London and a PhD from the University of Munich.

Nominations need to be made on the Bank of England website by Friday 14 December.

The Bank of England has appointed four experts in the field of science to the Banknote Character Advisory Committee - Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Emily Grossman, Simon Schaffer and Simon Singh - who will join the permanent members on the committee in creating a shortlist nominations put forward by the public.

The Bank of England governor will then make a choice from the shortlist and the final decision will be announced in 2019 alongside a concept design for the new note.

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