Bella MacCallum

Last updated
Bella MacCallum
Born1886 (1886)
Died17 March 1927(1927-03-17) (aged 40–41)
Alma mater
  • Lance (Lancelot) Shadwell Jennings
    (m. 1915;died 1916)
    Professor Peter MacCallum (m. 19191927)
Scientific career
FieldsBotany and Mycology

Bella Dytes MacIntosh MacCallum (née Cross, 1886 – 17 March 1927) was a New Zealand and British botanist and mycologist and was New Zealand's first female doctor of science. [1] [2]


Early life and education

MacCallum was born in Timaru, New Zealand, the daughter of George and Rebecca Cross. [3] She attended Timaru Girls' High School, then Canterbury College, earning a bachelor's degree in 1908 and a master's degree in 1909 with First Class Honours in botany, focussing on halophyte plant adaptations to salty soil [4] . Her master's degree involved field observations and anatomical studies, and compared botanical formations in Christchurch to Timaru [5] . She was awarded a National Research Scholarship, which she used to continue research on wetland plants. [4] She taught at high-schools before she earned her doctorate from the University of New Zealand in 1917 with a thesis on Phormium (N.Z. flax), titled Phormium with Regard to Its Economic Importance; a work whose origins in 1909 were inspired by the work and advice of Dr Leonard Cockayne. [2] [4] [6] She represented her university in tennis, was a member of the hockey 1st XI, and the Executive of the Students' Association [2] .


In 1915, MacCallum married Lance (Lancelot) Shadwell Jennings, and became known as Bella Jennings. [3] Both were tennis champions and researchers. [2] Captain Jennings was killed on 15 September 1916 at the Western Front, aged 23. [7] In 1919, she married Peter MacCallum at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh. She had three daughters from her second marriage. [3]

Career and research

In 1919, MacCallum moved to England, where she studied bacteriology at Cambridge Medical School, then moved to the University of Edinburgh, where she researched fungi, specifically timber staining fungi [4] , publishing Some Wood-Staining Fungi in 1920 [6] . She was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society in 1921. Less is known about her life after this point; she moved to Australia when husband Peter MacCallum was elected Chair of Pathology at Melbourne University, [5] and died on 17 March 1927, [6] giving birth to their third daughter, Bella. [1]

MacCallum featured as one of the Royal Society of New Zealand's "150 women in 150 words" project in 2017. [4]

Related Research Articles

Sir Peter MacCallum was a Scottish-born Australian oncologist and the co-founder and eponym of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

Edith Layard Stephens (1884-1966) was a South African botanist, a leading authority on algae and fungi, particularly edible and poisonous mushrooms.

Louisa Bolus South African botanist (1877–1970)

Harriet Margaret Louisa BolusnéeKensit was a South African botanist and taxonomist, and the longtime curator of the Bolus Herbarium, from 1903. Bolus also has the legacy of authoring more land plant species than any other female scientist, in total naming 1,494 species.

Greta Stevenson New Zealand mycologist

Greta Barbara Stevenson was a New Zealand botanist and mycologist. She described many new species of Agaricales.

Elsie Dohrmann was a New Zealand scholar, teacher and temperance campaigner.

<i>Phormium</i> genus of plants

Phormium is a genus of two plant species in the Asphodelaceae family. One species is endemic to New Zealand and the other is native to New Zealand and Norfolk Island. The two species are widely known in New Zealand as 'flax' and elsewhere as New Zealand flax or flax lily but are not closely related to flax, which is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and which has been used by humans since 30,000 B.C.

Augusta Vera Duthie was a South African botanist who studied the plants of the Western Cape and was a popular teacher who lectured on cryptogamic botany. She was the first university lecturer in botany who was entirely educated in South Africa. The standard author abbreviation A.V.Duthie is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.

Dorothea Frances Matilda "Dora" Pertz FLS was a British botanist. She co-authored five papers with Francis Darwin, Charles Darwin's son. She was made a Fellow of the Linnean Society, among the first women admitted to full membership.

Ella Campbell New Zealander botanist and bryologist (1910-2003)

Dame Ella Orr Campbell was a New Zealand botanist. An expert on bryophytes, she published 130 scientific papers on liverworts, hornworts, orchids, and wetlands. She became the first woman faculty member of the Massey Agricultural College in 1945, and in 2003 the herbarium at Massey was renamed the Dame Ella Campbell Herbarium in her honour. Following her retirement from teaching in 1976, she continued to research and publish for another two decades, finally retiring in 2000 at the age of 90.

Ethel Irene McLennan Australian botanist and educator

Ethel Irene McLennan was an Australian botanist, mycologist and educator.

Elizabeth Maude Herriott was a New Zealand scientist and academic. She was the first woman appointed to the permanent teaching staff at Canterbury College, now the University of Canterbury.

Natalie Ellen Rooney is a New Zealand sport shooter, competing primarily in trap shooting events.

Bertha Stoneman botanist (1866-1943)

Bertha Stoneman was an American-born South African botanist. She was president of Huguenot College from 1921 to 1933, and founder of the South African Association of University Women.

Helen Kirkland Dalrymple was a New Zealand botanist, author and school teacher who wrote two books on Otago flora.

Wendy Nelson (marine scientist) New Zealand botanist and phycologist

Wendy Alison Nelson is a New Zealand marine scientist and world expert in phycology. She is New Zealand's leading authority on seaweeds. Nelson is particularly interested in the biosystematics of seaweeds/macroalgae of New Zealand, with research on floristics, evolution and phylogeny, as well as ecology, and life history studies of marine algae. Recently she has worked on the systematics and biology of red algae including coralline algae, distribution and diversity of seaweeds in harbours and soft sediment habitats, and seaweeds of the Ross Sea and Balleny Islands.

Rosemary Campbell is a New Zealand artist and teacher.

Airini Elizabeth Woodhouse was a New Zealand community leader, historian, and author.

Paddy Bassett New Zealand agricultural scientist

Elsie Gertrude "Paddy" Bassett was a New Zealand agricultural scientist. She graduated from Massey Agricultural College in 1941, becoming the first woman graduate from that institution. Bassett was also one of the first two women students accepted into Canterbury Agricultural College.

Grace Marie Taylor was a New Zealand mycologist, botanist and scientific illustrator. She described several new species of fungi and published and illustrated books on New Zealand fungi and plants.

Avice Hill was a New Zealand entomologist and herb grower.


  1. 1 2 Riley, Robyn (April 19, 2009). "60 years of Sir Peter MacCallum's dream". Sunday Herald Sun . Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Thomson, A.D. "Some Pioneer Women Graduates in Botany from Canterbury University College" (PDF). Centre for Studies on N.Z. Science History. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 14, 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 "Social Notes". The Australasian . 26 March 1927. p. 54. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 "Royal Society Te Apārangi - Bella MacCullum". Retrieved 2018-10-09.
  5. 1 2 Creese, Mary R. S. (2010). Ladies in the laboratory III : South African, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian women in science : nineteenth and early twentieth centuries : a survey of their contributions. Creese, Thomas M. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN   9780810872899. OCLC   659564120.
  6. 1 2 3 Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey; Harvey, Joy Dorothy (2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science: L-Z. Taylor & Francis. p. 818. ISBN   9780415920407.
  7. "Lancelot Shadwell Jennings". Auckland War Memorial Museum . Retrieved 31 March 2016.