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 Ruth Agnes Forsyth  (1887 - )

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: science illustration, animal and marine life

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ruth Agnes Forsyth was born in 1887. In 1905, at the age of 18 years old, she sought a university education. In 1909, she completed all the coursework for a university degree from the University of California at Berkeley. The Golden Year Book of the University for 1909 also indicates that she was a resident in Gilroy, just south a number of miles below San Jose at the south end of San Francisco Bay, California. It seems possible that she became a teacher for a short time with the university degree assisting her at obtaining a position at a local school?

At this time it is not absolutely certain what her focus and major field of study was as an undergraduate at the University of California. However, it is believed that she obtained training in both zoology and botany, and Bachelor degree is listed as a Bachelor of Science.
In any regard, she enrolled in the graduate program in zoology at Berkeley not too long after finishing her undergraduate degree, approximately in 1914, is a current estimate of the year, which may need refinement after further research. The library of the University of California shows that she completed a Masters thesis in 1916. The research thesis involved an investigation of a group of marine animals found along the seashore in the littoral region and also in harbors of southern California that are known as ascidians. Naturalists and the public know them as tunicates and sea squirts. Her advisor was Doctor William Emerson Ritter, a world expert on ascidians who published many studies on ascidians of the Pacific Coast.

A year after completion of the Master's thesis, she and Doctor Ritter co-authored a peer-reviewed scientific report on the littoral ascidians of southern California that appeared in the University of California Publications in Zoology in 1917. The article is obviously noteworthy for its science in specialized field of marine biology and invertebrate zoology, but it is also noteworthy as a major investigation for a geographic region of our state that was much ignored, namely the coast of southern California. However, the young marine field station known as Scripps Institute of Oceanography was in existence and their report is a contribution from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography as well as from the University of California at Berkeley.

However, perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the research of Ruth Agnes Forsyth is that it is a study by a woman in the early 20th Century in the field of biology and zoology and marine biology. And also that a professor had the courage and humanitarian awareness to advise her as a graduate student and even that he was willing to have his name associated with a student that was a woman.

Robert Jan (Roy) van de Hoek, Ruth Agnes Forsyth, "Forgotten Marine Biologist: Notes Toward a Biography of a Woman Scientist, A Century Ago", Ballona Institute Publication,

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