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Sir Douglas Mawson ( 1882 - 1958 )  Category ( Scientists ) [suggest a correction]

Douglas Mawson, geologist and Antarctic explorer, was born in Yorkshire, England in 1882. At the age of four, his parents moved the family to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He attended Fort Street High School and the University of Sydney. The famous geologist, Sir Edgeworth David, became his mentor at the university. As David's student, Mawson demonstrated a talent for geological fieldwork and for scholarly academics.

Mawson graduated from the University of Sydney in 1902 with a degree in mining engineering and taught there until 1903. At that time, he joined an expedition to make the first geological survey of the Pacific New Hebrides Islands.

In 1905, after the expedition, Mawson became a lecturer of mineralogy and petrology at the University of Adelaide. There he earned the reputation for being a great teacher and scientist.

Mawson joined his second expedition in 1907. He was invited on the British Antarctic Expedition, which was led by Ernest Shackleton. On this journey, Mawson, along with his mentor David, became the first to ascend Mount Erebus. He was also a part of the first team to reach the South Magnetic Pole. He led the team on its return to camp.

In 1910, Mawson led his own expedition to King George V Land and Adelie Land, the part of Antarctica that is directly south of Australia. The ship, Aurora, was commanded by Captain John King Davis and left Hobart on December 2, 1911. The ship landed more than a month later at Cape Denison. At this base camp, the expedition set up what are now called Mawson Huts. The huts contained instruments for measuring variations in the magnetic field and to observe astronomical events.

During one trek from the main camp, a member of the party was lost in a crevasse along with a dog team and most of the party's provisions. Mawson and Xavier Mertz turned back for base camp and Mertz died along the way. When Mawson arrived back at base camp, the ship had left. Mawson and six men who stayed behind were forced to spend the winter there.

Back in Australia, Mawson married Paquita Delprat and was knighted. World War I broke out and he served in the British Ministry of Munitions. After the war, he returned to Australia to continue teaching and studying geology. Mawson died at home in Brighton on October 14, 1958 of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was 76.

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