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Biographical entry 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'.



Education - BS, University of Adelaide
Education - MA, University of Adelaide
1942 - 1949
Career position - Assistant Geologist, Bureau of Mineral Resources
Education - PhD, University of London
Education - DIC in palaeontology, Imperial College, London
1952 - 1957
Career position - Technical Information Officer, South Australian Department of Mines
1953 - 1956
Career position - Foundation Secretary, South Australian Division, Geological Society of Australia
1956 - 1959
Career position - Secretary, Geological Society of Australia
1957 - 1967
Career position - Palaeontologist (later Senior Palaeontologist), South Australian Department of Mines
1961 - 1962
Career position - President, Royal Society of South Australia
Award - Sir Joseph Verco Medal, Royal Society of South Australia
Life event - Retired
1967 - 1980
Career position - Editor, Handbooks of the flora and fauna of South Australia
1967 - 1993
Career position - Consultant in palaeontology to the South Australian Department of Mines
Career position - President, Geological Society of Australia
1976 - 1995
Award - Honorary Member, Geological Society of Australia
1981 -
Career position - Honorary Associate, South Australian Museum
Award - Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

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Published resources

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Alley, Neville F., 'Obituary: Nelly Hooper Ludbrook, MBE, MA, PhD, DIC, FGS - 8.v.1995', Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 120 (2) (1996), 74-7. Details
  • Cooper, Barry and Keith Johns, 'Nelly Hooper Ludbrook (1907-1995)', The Australian Geologist, 95 (1995), 48. Details
  • Turner, S., 'Invincible but mostly Invisible: Australian Women's Contribution to Geology and Palaeontology', Geological Society Special Publication, 281 (2007), 165-202. Details


Helen Cohn