Dr. Isabella Aiona Abbott, PhD

Isabella Aiona Abbott became the first native Hawaiian woman to earn a PhD in science, paving the way for all the future women who pursue a science degree. As a child, Abbott collected seaweed in her recipes and even learned their uses, leading to her passion. Abbott graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 1937, earned a bachelor’s degree in botany from the University of Hawaii’ in 1941, and a master’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1942. She married zoologist Don Abbott, then obtained her PhD in algal taxonomy from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1950. In 1972, Abbott became the first female professor in Stanford’s Biology department and wrote hundreds of articles throughout her career. After her retirement, Abbott was awarded the Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal by the National Academy of Sciences and claimed to be a “living treasure of Hawaii.”
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