1920 - 2007

CO2 in seawater

The Japanese name Katsuko means 'victorious'. Honouring her name, katsuko Saruhashi was a pioneer in geochemistry of oceans. She successfully conducted research at the Japan’s Meteorological Research Institute (MRI) for 35 years.

At a time when talking about CO2 was less common, Katsuko was a pioneer in measuring CO2 levels in sea water. Her work included the development of a method to identify carbonic acid in water based on three water parameters: the temperature, the pH level, and the chlorinity. This method was later on named the Saruhashi’s Table.

She also had interest in measuring the radioactivity in water, and she developed a method to investigate the levels of nuclear pollution. This enabled to identify the contamination of oceans with radioactive material, which triggered subsequent restrictions on nuclear experimentation in the ocean in 1963.

Saruhashi overcame several glass ceilings. She was the first female doctor in chemistry from the University of Tokyo (1957), first female member of the Science Council of Japan, and first woman winner of the Miyake Prize for geochemistry (1985).

She promoted the Society of Japanese Women Scientists, and created her own award, the Saruhashi Prize, to support women in science.

Written by: Enriqueta Vallejo-Yagüe.