What institutions did she attend?

  • Tunapuna Government Primary School, Trinidad
  • Tunapuna Presbyterian Primary School, Trinidad
  • Bishop Anstey High School, Trinidad
  • The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica- BSc in Geology
  • University of London, England- PhD in Geology

Other Achievements

  • She has a special love for palaeontology and has contributed to the Journal of Micropaleontology.
  • She has over 10 scientific publications and contributed to chapters in three books.
  • She is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London and a member of the Caribbean Academy of Sciences, the Geological Society of Trinidad and Tobago, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and Asia House London.


Now retired, Dr Radford spends her time attending scientific conferences, reading about horses, and doing voluntary work.

Sally Radford (Date of Birth: 28th Jan 1944)

Caribbean Women in STI

Dr Sally Radford is Trinidad and Tobago’s first female petroleum geologist. She is the first woman to win a Texaco scholarship to study geology at The University of the West Indies (UWI) in Mona, Jamaica, and the first West Indian woman to undertake oceanographic research. She did so aboard the research ship Atlantis II off Tobago whilst collecting seabed samples for her doctoral research. In that era, women were not allowed to work with men on ships or on rigs. Being on a rig was the highlight of her career. She was also part of the team that brought the first oil ashore from the Brent Oilfield in the UK.

Working as a professional petroleum geologist and lecturer for over 30 years, Dr Radford gained a wealth of experience in oceanography, geology, palaeontology, petroleum geoscience and environmental science. She started her career at Texaco’s geological laboratory in Trinidad, where she collected rock samples and fossils or foraminifera, which are commonly found in oil wells. She was directed by the renowned Professor Hans Bolli, Dr Hans Kuegler and John Saunders who pioneered geological studies in Trinidad and Tobago. With marriage to a Texaco engineer, she had to relinquish her job, but she continued with her fossils research in Tobago and in the North Sea while working with Shell in the UK.

Dr Radford introduced and taught the first course in oceanography at The Open University in the UK. She lectured in palaeontology at Imperial College London University where she supervised research on the Ocean Drilling Program undertaken off Australia by Li Qianyu of China, now a prominent professor at Tongji University in Shanghai, China. She also lectured at Kingston University London and supervised research undertaken in Venezuela in collaboration with the national petroleum company, PDVSA.

In 2002, she was a co-founder of the Petroleum Science degree at UWI, Trinidad and continues to support research in the region at conferences and through donations of literature and other material to UWI, The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and the Buccoo Reef Trust. In 2010, she organised a presentation of classical Indian musical instruments to UWI for the 50th Jubilee by local and international benefactors. As a member of the UK Women’s Council and various women’s groups in Trinidad, she promotes the welfare of women and is a fund-raiser for the Red Cross. She now edits an e-bulletin of West Indian science, and she and her husband were at one time editors of the World Petroleum Congress in China and Canada.

Sally Radford (née Rampersad) was born on 28th January, 1944 in Tunapuna, Trinidad. Growing up, her father, a mechanic, was one of the first persons in their community to own a car. She became interested in fuels and how they powered machines, and was intrigued by the international oil, chemical and asphalt companies which were operating in the country.

Her sixth form science teacher encouraged her interest in science and so she started reading some geology books in the school library. This set her on the path to becoming a geologist. In 1962, she won the Jerningham Silver Medal for the best results in the Cambridge School Certificate. Before pursuing her studies in geology, she worked as a technical assistant in The UWI Botany Department where she learnt to care for specimens, a skill that helped her as a geologist.

She advocates helping those in need and is a strong believer in “Omnia vincit amor”, meaning “Love conquers all”.


What is a geologist?

Geologists are scientists who study the earth’s crust to determine its structure, history and processes, composition and the biology of its past inhabitants by examining fossils. The findings are used in construction, planning, conservation, and the exploration of minerals, fuels and other natural resources of the earth.

Their work involves studying and mapping rock formations, collecting and analysing rock samples and fossils, and measuring the physical properties of layers of rocks on the land or under the sea. They assess the suitability of areas for construction works, and the exploration and exploitation of natural resources. They also assess natural disasters and their impact on the environment. They work for private companies, government agencies, universities and museums.

Areas of Specialisation

  • Mineralogy
  • Paleontology
  • Geohydrology
  • Geomorphology
  • Structural geology
  • Geophysics
  • Vulcanology
  • Petroleum geology

What do I need to study?

At CSEC and CAPE: Geography, Chemistry, Mathematics

To become a geologist, one must pursue a bachelor’s degree in geography or geology, followed by an advanced degree in a geology specialty area in order to work in a senior position in industry, undertake research or do university teaching.

What skills and traits do I need?

  • Ability to adapt to different working conditions e.g. laboratories, inhospitable areas and unpleasant weather
  • Love for nature
  • Ability to work with maps and technical equipment
  • Calculation and computer skills

Famous Geologists

  • Otto Wilhelm Hermann von Abic
  • Giovanni Arduino
  • James Hutton
  • Adam Sedgwick
  • Nicolas Steno