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Rachel White was an Australian scientist who made great contributions to the field of wool research during her tenure at Australia's CSIRO. She studied the friction, felting and shrink-proofing of wool. In 1971 she became a Senior Principal Research Scientist, and in 1977 CSIRO's first female Chief Research Scientist. In 1979, she became the first woman to achieve the rank of Assistant Chief of Division in CSIRO.
Kathleen Rachel White was born on February 15, 1917 near London. She was the eldest of three children, and began to shine academically from a young age. Rachel secured a scholarship to study physics and Cambridge University, achieving a Double First in 1939. She met her future husband at Cambridge, and they moved to Australia just before the outbreak of the second world war. During the war years she tutored RAAF airmen the radio physics, but by the war's end she entered the new field of wool research upon securing a position at CSIR. In 1970, Markinson took her PhD from the University of Cambridge. In 1981 she was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (FTSE), and in 1982 she was made a Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) "for public service in the field of wool research".
As a scientist, and socialist, she was a huge advocate for equal pay and opportunities for women. She also had a long standing interest in Aboriginal rights.