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Patricia Bergquist

Patricia Bergquist. Source: Alexander Turnbull LIbrary, Wellington, New Zealand. Ref: PA1-q-1057.

Marine biologist (1933-2009)

A world expert on sponges, Partricia Bergquist was the first person to gain a doctoral degree in zoology from the University of Auckland. Bergquist had a particular interest in marine sponges, immobile animals that look like plants. She published a definitive series of publications on the topic, culminating in her 1978 textbook Sponges which became a prescribed text throughout the world. Bergquist was one of Auckland University's first two female professors and was involved a wide range of professional activities. She led a long-term collaboration with the Roche Research Institute for Marine Pharmacology, considered the quality of science at Te Papa, and sat on the Prime Minister’s Special Committee on Nuclear Propulsion in 1992.

Bergquist was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi in 1982 and in 1989 she became the second women to have won the Royal Society Te Aparangi’s Hector medal, awarded for an outstanding contribution to the advancement of a particular branch of science.  


Image: A red tube sponge. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


‘Royal Society Te Apārangi - Patricia Rose Bergquist’, accessed 14 November 2017, https://royalsociety.org.nz/who-we-are/our-people/our-fellows/obituaries/fellows-obituaries/patricia-rose-bergquist/.

This profile is part of the series 150 Women in 150 Words that celebrates women’s contributions to expanding knowledge in New Zealand, running as part of our 150th Anniversary.