Marion Amelia Spence Ross



Dr Marion Amelia Spence Ross FRSE was a Scottish physicist born in Edinburgh on 9 April 1903. She was one of five daughters of William Baird Ross, organist and composer.

After school in Edinburgh, Marion Ross studied Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Edinburgh University. In 1928 she took up a post as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Physics at the University of Edinburgh, and instigated a course in Acoustics for music students. Her work with Professor C. G.Barkla resulted in her being awarded a PhD in 1943.

For one year, she worked under the direction of William Lawrence Bragg in Manchester, and together with Charles Arnold Beevers, explored the structure of the crystal, Beta Alumina. They noted there were 'problem' sites in the areas occupied by mobile sodium ions. Subsequently the very presence of these ions was discovered to make this crystal an efficient superconductor. As a tribute to their discovery, the locations of these ions are now known as Beevers-Ross or anti-Beevers-Ross sites.

During the Second World War, Dr Ross worked with the Admiralty at Rosyth where she led a Research group investigating underwater acoustics. She became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1951, two years after the first female Fellows were admitted. After the war she returned to the University of Edinburgh as a Lecturer, studying high-energy particle spectra. Some of her work was published in Nature.

Her interest in fluid flows led to her setting up a Fluid Dynamics Unit within the Department of Physics. Many students were attracted to this field of study, supervised by Dr Ross. Her research in nuclear and X-ray physics, and in fluid dynamics, is internationally recognised and has inspired others to follow in her footsteps.

She died on 3 January 1994.

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