Categories: Women Scientists

Rachel Carson – Marine biologist and environmental conservationist

Full name: Rachel Louise Carson
Born on: 27th May 1907 at Springdale, Pennsylvania, United Sates of America
Died on: 14th April 1964 at Silver Spring, Maryland, United Sates of America
Nationality: American
Education: Marine Biology, Zoology and Genetics from Chatham University and Johns Hopkins University.
Well known for: Book named ‘Silent Spring’ on detrimental effects of pesticides on the environment, particularly on birds

A well known marine biologist and environmental conservationist ‘Rachel Louise Carson’ has made tremendous contribution to the global environmental movement. In fact, she is perhaps the pioneer of the environmental movement that is at the forefront of all major policy decisions today. Born and brought up at small family farm near Springdale, Pennsylvania, she spent a lot of time exploring around her family’s farm and developed a keen interest in nature. Rachel Carson began writing stories at age of eight. She became a devoted writer later and published her first story at the age of eleven in the St. Nicholas Magazine.

Education: She received her early education from a small school at Springdale till tenth grade. She completed high school from Parnassus, Pennsylvania. Rachel graduated in 1925 and also studied English in Pennsylvania College for Women in order to fulfil her dream of becoming a writer.

Being enthusiastic towards natural world, particularly the ocean she chose marine biology as her field of study. After graduation, she held a summer study fellowship at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts and continued her studies in zoology at Johns Hopkins University till 1929. After her first year of her further studies, Carson took assistantship at Raymond Pearl’s laboratory and became a part-time student. She completed a dissertation project on the embryonic development of the pronephros in fish and earned a master’s degree in zoology in June 1932. Her father died in 1934 leaving behind her ageing mother and family to be taken care of. In subsequent years, she had intended to continue for a doctorate studies but was forced to leave Johns Hopkins in order to search for a full-time teaching position to help support her family. In 1935, she choose a temporary job where she wrote radio scripts on marine life at U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and remained there from 1936 to 1952 as a full-time employee.

Achievements: Her first book was named ‘Under the Sea-Wind’: A Naturalist’s Picture of Ocean Life’ which was published in 1941 and received a very good response. Her second book, ‘The Sea Around Us’, was published in 1951. This book explored the origins and geological aspects of the sea and won the National Book Award.

Rachel began field research on the ecology and organisms of the Atlantic shore from 1953 and started writing – ‘The Edge of the Sea’, which focuses on life in coastal ecosystems. She developed an interest in studying harmful effects of pesticides on the environment. Rachel’s most famous book – ‘Silent Spring’ was published in Sep 1956. The book is widely credited with launching the environmental movement.

This great woman scientist died due to cancer on 14 April 1964. She is always with us in the form of her writings and thoughts.

Silent Spring Book Cover

The Rachel Carson Bridge in Pittsburgh

Image Credits: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Rachel Carson picture), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Silent Spring Book Cover), Jet Lowe (The Rachel Carson Bridge in Pittsburgh)

Editor’s note: There are many women scientists who are responsible for making discoveries and advances in the fields of Environment and natural science. On the occasion of World Women’s Day, we at Green Clean Guide decided to share information on world’s renowned women scientists. This is a series of articles to pay tribute to these exceptional women. Please visit category – ‘World Women Scientist’ regularly for updated information. Green Clean Guide wishes its readers a very happy World Women’s Day.


Shailesh is post graduate in Environment Management from Forest Research Institute (FRI) University, Dehradun, India. Presently he is working in the areas of Environmental and Renewable Energy Advisory Services. He has started during his college days.

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