Obituary: Joan Mott

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The Independent Online
Joan Culver Mott, zoologist: born Parkstone, Dorset 9 January 1921: Secretary, the Neonatal Society, 1963- 1967; Foundation Fellow, Wolfson College, Oxford 1966-88, Viceregent 1969-71, Emeritus Fellow 1988-94; died Headington, Oxfordshire 21 April 1994.

JOAN MOTT was one of the Foundation Fellows of Wolfson College, Oxford, when it was set up in 1966. As a zoologist she studied the physiological control of the circulation and respiration in foetal and newborn mammals, including that of the eel. She established in 1965 a research group of her own, made up of other postgraduate students from Britain and overseas, to investigate the role of the renin-angiotensin system in maintaining normal blood pressure before and after birth.

Joan Mott was born in 1921, the only child of a general medical practitioner, in Parkstone, Dorset. She was educated at Cheltenham Ladies' College, on whose Guild Committee she served for many years. She was awarded a First Class degree in Zoology at Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1943, and won a tennis blue. She then worked on anti-fouling, devising processes for keeping the hulls of ships free from barnacles, and became an assistant lecturer in Zoology at Royal Holloway College, London.

I first met Mott in the spring of 1948 at the Nuffield Institute for Medical Research in Oxford, where she was studying the circulation in the eel Anguilla anguilla, using the then new method of cine-angiography, as a Jenner Fellow of Newnham. She was awarded a DPhil and appointed in 1950 to a Senior Studentship of the Royal Commission for the 1851 Exhibition.

In the 1960s she developed an interest in the regulation of blood volume, and the response to haemorrhage, in newborn mammals. Two of her graduate students now hold professorships, in England and in Australia. She was Secretary of the Neonatal Society from 1963 to 1967.

Mott was very direct and forthright, with wide interests and strong opinions firmly held. Yet, though a private person, she quickly warmed to new colleagues and acquaintances, and was generous to younger students. Her opinion was sought and valued.

In the period after the Second World War a number of academic appointments were made in Oxford without affiliation to an existing college. Most of these were in science departments, which had expanded rapidly in the 1950s. After extensive consultation, two new societies (which were forerunners to Wolfson) were created. Mott, as a member of a society established in 1965, became a Foundation Fellow of Wolfson College in July 1966. The nature of this new, different and very successful establishment was largely determined by its fellowship, in which she played an active part.

She was Vicegerent of the college from 1969 to 1971 and served on its committees for many years. She retired in 1988, but kept up her close college connections.