Dr. Wade was born in Adelaide, Australia. In 1954 she received a Bachelor of Science with Honours from the University of Adelaide. Her thesis was on the Micropalaeontology of South Australian Tertiary foraminifera. After graduation and while working on a PhD she was a Senior Demonstrator at the University. In 1959 she received her PhD working with Dr. Martin Glaessner whom she continued to work.
In 1971 she left the university to become Curator of Geology at the Queensland Museum, eventually becoming Acting Assistant Director (for Scientific, Research and Consultancy). Dr. Wade was an expert in a very wide-range of fossil types but is now primarily known for her work with dinosaurs. Dr. Wade was a pioneer in paleontological-based tourism and created a Dinosaur Trail in the Queensland Outback. After she retired in 1993, Dr. Wade continued as a Honorary Research Associate. In 1994 she was awarded the Queensland Museum Medal in recognition of her many achievements.