M. J. Marples

MBChB, MD
Elected to Honorary membership: 
1981
Affliation: 
Otago University

Molly was born in Northern India of missionary parents, educated in England and, in due course, became a member of Sommerville College, Oxford, where she completed a degree in zoology. In 1931 she married another Oxford graduate, Brian Marples, who in 1937 was appointed to the Chair of Zoology at Otago University. She completed her MBChB at Otago University and in 1946, Molly was appointed to the staff of what was then the Department of Bacteriology and Public Health, with Sir Charles Hercus as Head of Department. Through 1946 and 1947 she proposed and promoted the offering of a second year course in Microbiology for BSc students – a course which first became available to students in 1949.

She participated in research expeditions to Western Samoa in 1950-51 and, in the following years, devoted herself to research in medical mycology, which culminated in the award of an MD and the publication of her acclaimed book, “The Ecology of the Human Skin”. In January 1969, she published her historic article in Scientific American, entitled “Life on the Human Skin”. Molly retired from Otago in 1967 and returned to Oxford. A jovial woman, she was responsible for introducing the fascinating world of medical mycology, and medical microbiology in general, to a host of appreciative undergraduate and graduate students. Molly was elected an Honorary Member of NZMS in 1981.