Helen Irene Battle was a revolutionary scientist and feminist. She contributed many great things to the field of science, and was the first woman to earn a doctorate in marine biology in Canada, and was also a teacher. One of her most notable developments is the use of fish eggs to study the effects of cancerous chemicals on the growth of cells.
Helen Irene Battle was born in the town of London, Ontario, on August 31st, 1903. She attended the University of Western Ontario. Her studies there were so important that they went on to win two medals. She was working to be the first Master of Arts graduate from the Department of Zoology in 1924, and in 1928, she became the first woman ever in Canada to earn her PhD in Marine Biology at the University of Toronto. She then resterned to teach at the University of Western Ontario as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Zoology. Her work went beyond that of traditional science, and she was credited as being one of the first to use histological and physiology methods in the field of marine biology, which means that she used techniques from the study of microscopic organisms and cells to work for the study of marine wildlife, so that she could gather research. This had rarely been seen before.
At the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, located in New Brunswick, Helen Battle researched fish embryology (fish eggs and unborn fish) and also worked at several laboratories afterwards. She published more than thirty seven articles about different species of fish and other marine animals. Because the laboratories she studied with were often on a really tight budget, she came up with inventive ways to continue research in her field. She was a true female leader in a profession dominated by men, but with her intelligence and her work ethics, she wasn’t treated any differently. Helen was an incredible scientist who paved the way for future female researchers and educated many young people to become just as great as her.
Sadly, Helen died in 1994 on June 17th. She was ninety years old. A pioneering scientist and instructor; her resourcefulness, ingenious ideas, and hard work to bring many new developments to the field of marine biology will never be forgotten.