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Ludbrook, Nelly Hooper (1907 - 1995)


14 June 1907
Yorketown, South Australia, Australia
9 May 1995
Geologist and Palaeontologist
Alternative Names
  • Woods, Nelly (maiden name)


Nelly Ludbrook, née Woods, was the first South Australian born palaeontologist to demonstrate the importance of palaeontology to the mining industry and founded what is now known as the Biostratigraphy Section of Mines and Energy, South Australia. Interested in geology and palaeontology from her undergraduate years at the University of Adelaide, where she completed Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees, she was able to pursue her interest in Cainozoic molluscs when she married Wallis Verco Ludbrook in 1935 and moved to Canberra. She had written a paper on the subject while working as a high school teacher at Mount Barker for which she was awarded the Tate Medal from the University of Adelaide. Her subsequent career included appointment as assistant geologist with the Commonwealth Government from 1942-1949, a period in London from 1950 at the Imperial College where she gained a PhD in geology and the DIC in palaeontology for a study of Pliocene molluscs from strata underlying the Adelaide Plains. On the death of her husband she returned to South Australia in 1952 where she was employed as technical information officer for the Mines Department, and in 1957 was appointed palaeontologist, a position she held until her retirement in 1967 as senior palaeontologist. She published more than 70 scientific papers and monographs, and at least 17 fossil species and one genus of fossil mollusc have been named in her honour. She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1981 'for service to science'.

Sources used to compile this entry: J. Murray Lindsay (ed.), Stratigraphy, Palaentology, Malacology: Papers in honour of Dr Nell Ludbrook, Department of Mines and Energy South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, 1985; The Australian Geologist, no 95, 30 June 1995, pp 48-9.

Rosemary Francis

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