Rosemary Askin grew up and began her geology career in Wellington, New Zealand, earning her BSc in Geology and Zoology, BSc (Hons), then PhD at Victoria University of Wellington in 1976. Her specialty is palynology, working primarily on fossil spores and pollen, for determining relative age of sedimentary rocks and tracing past vegetation and hence paleoclimate history.
New Zealand’s proximity to and fascination with Antarctica, together with Victoria University’s long history of geological research in the Transantarctic Mountains, encouraged her to head south for her PhD research. Beginning in 1970 with three field seasons for that project in southern Victoria Land and the Darwin Mountains, she has conducted research over numerous seasons in southern Victoria Land, the central Transantarctic Mountains, South Shetland Islands, northern Antarctic Peninsula, and Seymour Island, as well as on material from various drilling projects around Antarctica. She moved to the United States in 1976 as a post-doc at then Institute of Polar Studies, Ohio State University. She continued palynology research and consulting based out of other universities and locations before returning to Byrd Polar Research Center in 1994. Her final major project there, completed in 2003, involved construction of the US Polar Rock Repository.
She has a daughter and two grandchildren, and lives in Jackson, Wyoming with her husband Tim Cully. She continues Antarctic research with her palynology colleague Sophie Warny of Louisiana State University and helps with mentoring Sophie’s students. She also teaches and practices karate and tai chi, and volunteers at the Teton County Library and Teton Raptor Center.