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Google Doodle celebrates marine biologist María de los Ángeles Alvariño González

An authority in plankton biology, she discovered 22 new species of marine animals.


Sunday's Google Doodle celebrates the 105th birthday of María de los Ángeles Alvariño González, a Spanish American oceanographer and marine biologist who would discover nearly two dozen new species of marine animals.

Born on Oct. 3, 1916, in Serantes, Spain, Ángeles Alvariño showed an interest in natural history at an early age. After graduating summa cum laude from University of Santiago de Compostela and acquiring a master's degree in natural sciences from Complutense University of Madrid, she taught biology, zoology, botany and geology at various schools in Spain during the 1940s.

She returned to school to do fishery research at the Spanish Institute of Oceanography in Madrid, but her education was hampered by a Spanish law that prohibited women from being aboard Spanish naval vessels. But due to her impressive academic credentials, she was still allowed to take courses and do some research.

She would go on to perform pioneering research on zooplankton, the small organisms upon which almost all oceanic organisms depend on as a food source. A fellowship from the British Council in 1953 allowed her to become the first woman to work as a scientist aboard a British research vessel and led to key discoveries in plankton distribution.

Over the course of her research career, Ángeles Alvariño discovered 22 new species of zooplankton and the published more than 100 scientific papers. She also served as a professor at various schools in Brazil, Mexico and the US.

She retired as emeritus scientist in 1993, and a research vessel for the Spanish Institute of Oceanography was named in her honor in 2012.

She died in 2005 at the age of 88.