ESHG Biographies

Dorothy Hill - image courtesy John Jell. Portrait by Lola McCausland (1967), collection of The University of Queensland - reproduced with permission.

Germaine Anne Joplin 
Germaine Anne Joplin (1903-1989) – geologist and petrologist. Germaine Joplin was one of the students attracted to geology through the influence of Edgeworth David (and later by W.R. Browne). After taking up geological studies relatively late (at the age of 23) at Sydney University, she graduated B.Sc. with the University Medal in 1930, before going on to Cambridge with a Science Research Scholarship and a Junior Fellowship of the International Federation of University Women to study petrology with C.E. Tilley. After gaining her Ph.D. in 1936 she returned to Sydney University, becoming Curator of the Geological Museum and Assistant Lecturer in Petrology.

She resigned in 1941, taking a Linnean Fellowship to enable her to follow up Browne's work on the Cooma Metamorphic Belt, which she completed in 1945. From 1945 to 1949 she returned to lecturing in igneous and metamorphic petrology at Sydney University. Her publications in these years included studies of the Hartley granites, the skarns of Ben Bullen and the metamorphic rocks around Albury. Her work on the interaction of primary granitic and primary basaltic magmas earned her a D.Sc. from the University in 1950. At this time, she had a period of several years in social work, having taken a diploma (as well as a B.A.) while continuing her geological research and teaching. She was persuaded to return to geology by the offer of a temporary research position at the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Canberra.

Germaine Anne Joplin - image courtesy David Branagan

In 1952 she received her just reward — a permanent research position as a Fellow in the newly established Department of Geophysics at the Australian National University working with John Jaeger and John Richards. 

Here she supervised numerous Ph.D. students, compiled chemical data on Australian rocks (work begun while at the Bureau) and wrote highly-acclaimed text books on Australian igneous and metamorphic petrology, in which she reintroduced the concept of the "shoshonite" suite of rocks that continues to be used. These books and many of her papers are adorned by her beautiful hand-drawn black and white thin-section figures that show textures so well. 

With characteristic determination she took up research anew after the destruction of much of her material in a fire in 1960. Germaine Joplin typifies the women who began to take up professional careers in geology following World War 1. By her ability, determination and personality she reached great heights in the geological profession. She was a foundation member of the GSA and recipient of the GSA’s W.R. Browne medal in 1986, also becoming a Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) in the same year for her outstanding geological research. She is remembered on the ANU campus by her name being given to the library at University House and by Joplin Lane.


National Museum Australia, Women in science – Dr Germaine Joplin., accessed 4 Nov 2019

Presbyterian Ladies College, Dr Germaine Joplin – geologist and STEM pioneer., accessed online 4 November 2019

Richards, John, 'Joplin, Germaine Anne (?–1989)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 4 November 2019.

Turner, S., 'Invincible but mostly Invisible: Australian Women's Contribution to Geology and Palaeontology', Geological Society Special Publication, vol. 281, 2007, pp. 165-202.

David Branagan, with additions by Ian Withnall and Sue Turner (2019)