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Manton, Sidnie Milana

society evolution awarded cambridge

(1902–79) British zoologist; a classical zoologist of the first rank.

Sidnie Manton was the elder of two daughters of a dental surgeon and his Scottish–French wife; both daughters became Fellows of the Royal Society, the first case in its history of two sisters achieving this distinction. At both her London schools there was an emphasis on biology and she was encouraged by her parents to collect, study and draw butterflies, moths and fungi. In 1921 she went to Girton College, Cambridge, where she took the Natural Science Tripos and in Part 2 came top of the final list, but was not awarded the University Prize as women were not then accepted as full members of the university. She was appointed as the first female university demonstrator in comparative anatomy in Cambridge (1927–35) and in the following year obtained her PhD. In 1934 she became the first woman to be awarded a Cambridge ScD, and from 1935–42 was director of studies at Girton College. She married J P Harding in 1937; he became keeper of zoology at the British Museum and she moved to King’s College, London, becoming Reader in 1949.

Her research was on the structure, physiology and evolution of the arthropods, covering also the functional morphology and feeding mechanisms of the Crustacea, arthropod embryology, the evolution of arthropodian locomotor mechanisms, the mandibular mechanisms of arthropods and arthropod evolution. She was the author of The Arthropoda: Habits, Functional Morphology and Evolution (1977). Her influence on zoology was profound and long-lasting.

She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1948, being among the first women to be so honoured. The Linnean Society awarded her its Gold Medal in 1963 and the Zoological Society the Frink Medal in 1977.

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