Dr Greta Stevenson, a New Zealander by birth, began studying at the University of Otago in 1929 and graduated with a BSc and later an MSc with first class honours in 1933; she was an outstanding botanist. In the same year she took up alpine climbing and ascended Mt Earnslaw in what was the first significant climb by an all-women party. Arriving at Imperial College in 1934 holding a Shirtcliffe fellowship she completed her PhD and the College's Diploma in Mycology and Plant Pathology. Dr Stevenson was described as an ‘assertive, independent individual, whose love of plants and enthusiasm for the outdoors made her an inspiring teacher’. After enjoying a long career as a botanist undertaking various research and teaching posts in both the UK and New Zealand, she returned to England in 1986 and died in London on 18 December 1990.
In 1988 Dr Stevenson made a significant donation to the College to establish a fund to expressly assist female science students, either undergraduate or graduate, to be used according to the circumstances of the day.
In keeping with Dr Stevenson’s request the Stevenson Fund makes available annually three bursaries of up to a value of £7,500 each. These are open to female students from Imperial College who are studying for degrees in Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Life Sciences and Geology, and students studying in the Centre for Environmental Policy, to undertake an international research placement of up to a maximum of three months with a leading female professor in a similar institution.
The Stevenson Fund is aimed at assisting the long-term scientific careers and ambitions of women in key scientific disciplines in which there is significant female under-representation. Where possible, we would encourage students from the collaborating institutions to reciprocate the visit in future years and to grow international networks amongst our students and researchers. To recognise Dr Stevenson’s own career this could include the University of Otago.