I graduated from Somerville College in 2016 with an Mmath in Mathematics. Whilst writing my fourth year dissertation, entitled The Mathematics of Mary Somerville, Somerville’s passion for acquiring knowledge and awe of nature completely captured my imagination. After reading her honest and candid Personal Recollections (1874), in which she detailed her life as a woman in science in the nineteenth century, I began to truly appreciate how systematically women were excluded from the mainstream scientific community. I am interested in how this affected the type of scientific research women were able to pursue, and how it continues to affect the ways in which they are recognised and remembered for their work.
I am continuing my research on Somerville at The Open University, where I am currently a PhD candidate supervised by Professor June Barrow-Green. My research focuses on her contributions to the dissemination of French analysis in Great Britain in the 1830s. I have spoken about Mary Somerville at the Royal Bank of Scotland for the launch of their £10 note featuring her portrait, and was featured in a segment about her life and work in Season 15, Episode 19 of BBC’S Antiques Road Trip.
How did Mary Somerville get on the Scottish £10 note?
Who is Mary Somerville?
If you immediately thought ‘she was a scientist!’ you would be right! But she is so much more than that! Somerville college right here in Oxford was named in her honour.
In this episode of the Big Questions podcast we are asking: How did Mary Somerville get on the Scottish £10 note?
To find out we visited Brigitte Stenhouse who is doing her PhD at...