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Information Sheet
Australian Scientists

Arthur John Birch (1915-1995)
Organic Chemist. Professor of Organic Chemistry, Australian National University, from 1967. Earlier he was at Oxford University, Cambridge University, the University of Sydney, and Manchester University, England. President, Australian Academy of Science 1982-86. Birch's research formed the foundation for the manufacture of antibiotic drugs and the first oral contraceptive pill.

Peter Orlebar Bishop (1917- )
Physiologist. Professor of Physiology at the University of Sydney 1955-67, and also at the John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, 1967-82. He provided an increased understanding of people's ability to see in three dimensions.

Nancy Burbidge (1912-1977)
Botanist. She was a systematic botanist and Curator of the Herbarium, CSIRO Division of Plant Industry 1946-73. Published Flora of Australia and several other books on Australian plants.

Frank Macfarlane Burnet (1899-1985)
Medical Scientist and Biologist. Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne 1944-66. He was awarded the The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1960, along with P. Medawar, 'for discovery of acquired immunological tolerance'. His areas of research included antibodies, polio, myxomatosis, and many other topics.

John Warcup Cornforth (1917- )
Chemist. Cornforth was born in Sydney, New South Wales. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1975 (jointly) 'for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalyzed reactions'. He was the Professor and Research Professor, University of Sussex 1971-82.

Suzanne Cory (1942- )
Biochemist and Molecular Oncologist. Prior to her appointment as Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in 1996, Cory was Joint Head of the Molecular Biology Unit with her husband, Jerry Adams, for eight years. She undertook three years of postdoctoral studies at the University of Geneva. The rest of her working life has been spent at WEHI.

Richard Daintree (1832-1878)
Geologist. He was a member of the Geological Survey of Victoria 1854-56, as a field surveyor. He moved to Queensland in 1864, became the first Government Geologist of Northern Queensland 1868-70, and was Queensland's Agent-General in London 1868-70. His knowledge led to the opening of many Queensland gold fields. An accomplished photographer, he introduced the use of photography into geological work. The Daintree River and Daintree Rainforest in North Queensland are named after him.

Tannant William Edgeworth David (1858-1934)
Geologist and Surveyor. Professor of Geology at the University of Sydney 1891-1924, and a member of the second British Antarctic Expedition 1907-09. Earlier he was Assistant Geological Surveyor for the Geological Survey of New South Wales 1882-91.

Amalie Dietrich (1821-1891)
Botanist and Naturalist. Dietrich spent nearly ten years (1863-72) in the barely settled wilds of northern Queensland, collecting specimens for the Museum Godeffroy in Hamburg, Germany. Through this work, she brought Australia's natural wonders to people in Europe.

William James Farrer (1845-1906)
Agriculturalist and Wheat Breeder. Farrer was involved in developing breeds of wheat suitable for Australian conditions. This work was primarily undertaken on his farm in Queanbeyan, New South Wales. His most notable achievement was the breeding and establishment of 'Federation' wheat, which was rust-resistant and high yielding.

Howard Walter Florey (1898-1968)
Pathologist. Florey was born in Adelaide, South Australia. He was Professor of Pathology at the University of Sheffield 1931-35, and then at the University of Oxford 1935-62. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1945 'for the discovery of penicillin and its curative effect in various infectious diseases'. He was also the Chancellor of the Australian National University (1965-68).

Joan Freeman (1918- )
Nuclear Physicist. During the Second World War , she worked at CSIR Radiophysics Laboratory developing a 10 centimetre microwave radar set. Moved to the UK to study at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, 1946-51. She worked for the British Atomic Energy Research Establishment for most her working life. In 1976 she became the first female to be awarded the British Institute of Physics' prestigious Rutherford Medal.

Lawrence Hargrave (1850-1915)
Aeronautical Engineer and Astronomer. After participating in several explorations into New Guinea, Hargrave worked as an assistant astronomical observer at the Sydney Observatory 1878-83. He then devoted his time to research in aeronautics and human flight. It is believed that, with more support, he could have been the first person to achieve powered flight.

Ernst Johannes Hartung (1893-1979)
Chemist. Hartung worked at the University of Melbourne for his whole career, between 1919 and 1954. In 1927 he became Professor of Chemistry. During the Second World War, Hartung produced the first optical glass in Australia, assisted by ACI. He is commemorated by the Hartung Youth Lectures of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.  

Dorothy Hill (1907-1997)
Geologist and Palaeontologist. Hill was Research Professor of Geology at the University of Queensland 1959-72. She has published widely on palaeontology, stratigraphy and geology. Hill was the first female Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science 1956, first Australian female elected to the Royal Society 1965, and first female President of the Australian Academy of Science in 1970.

Henry Ambrose Hunt (1866-1946)
Meteorologist. Born in Britain, Hunt emigrated to Australia 1884. He was a clerk at Sydney Observatory 1884-86, and became Director of the Commonwealth Bureau Meteorology 1907-31.

Elizabeth Kenny (1880-1952)
Nurse and Health Administrator. Kenny developed a new treatment for poliomyelitis in the 1930s and established clinics in Brisbane with the backing of the state government. Unfortunately, opposition from the medical profession forced her to move to the USA in 1940, and it was there her treatment methods became widely acclaimed.

Esmond Venner Keogh (1895-1970)
Medical Scientist and Epidemiologist. Keogh was Medical Director of the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria 1955-68. He undertook research on malaria during the Second World War.

Kerr Grant (1878-1967)
Physicist. Kerr Grant was Professor of Physics at the University of Adelaide 1911-48, and Chair of the Optical Munitions Panel 1944-46.

Phillip Parker King (1791-1856)
Hydrographer. King was a naval officer whose principal scientific work was hydrographic surveys of the Australian coast, continuing the work of Mathew Flinders. He also made research notes on Australian natural history, collected insects and had a small observatory.

Thomas Howell Laby (1880-1946)
Chemist and Physicist. Professor of Natural Philosophy (Physics) at the University of Melbourne, 1914-42. He was Chair of the Optical Munitions Panel 1940-44, first President of the Australian Branch of the Institute of Physics 1939-41, and shared in the design of one the first anti-gas respirators. A physics lecture theatre at the University of Melbourne was named after him.

Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt (1813-1848)
Naturalist and Explorer. Leichhardt arrived in New South Wales in 1842 to carry out inland explorations of Australia. He died on his third expedition while attempting to cross the continent from Moreton Bay, Queensland, to the Swan River, Western Australia.

Thomas Ranken Lyle (1860-1944)
Physicist and Mathematician. Lyle was Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Melbourne 1889-1914, Chair of the Board of the Melbourne Observatory 1903-44, a scientific advisor to the Naval Board 1914-18, and President of the Australian National Research Council 1929-32.

William John Macleay (1820-1891)
Naturalist and Entomologist. Macleay, a New South Wales pastoralist, politician and scientist, was the founder of the Macleay Museum at the University of Sydney and helped to found the Entomological Society of New South Wales. He wrote widely on entomology, icthyology and zoology.

Annie Jean Macnamara (1899-1968)
Medical Scientist. Macnamara was a physician at the Melbourne Children's Hospital from 1923, a consultant and medical officer to the Poliomyelitis Committee of Victoria 1925-31, and a medical officer at Yooralla Hospital School for Crippled Children 1928-51. She worked with Macfarlane Burnet on polio research, and fought for the introduction of myxomatosis in Australia.

David Orme Masson (1858-1937)
Chemist. Masson was Professor of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne 1886-1923, and took an important part in the establishment of the CSIR. He undertook fundamental research on atomic structure, and electrolytes in water. A mountain range and island in Antarctica are named after him.

Frederick McCoy (1817-1899)
Palaeontologist and Naturalist. McCoy was Professor of Natural Sciences at the University of Melbourne 1854-99, and Director of the National Museum of Victoria from 1858.

Gustav Joseph Victor Nossal (1931-)
Medical Scientist and Immunologist. Nossal was Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research 1965-96, and Professor of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne. He is distinguished for his contributions to the fields of antibody formation and immunological tolerance. In 1996 he was one of the founders of Foursight, a company providing advice on R&D management to scientific companies, investment institutions, academics and government. He is also the current President of the Australian Academy of Science (1997).

Marcus Oliphant (1901- )
Physicist. Oliphant worked with Rutherford at the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University. He discovered deuterium and tritium, and built particle accelerators. He was the first President of Australian Academy of Science, and was Governor of South Australia 1971-76.

Richard Owen (1804-1892)
Naturalist and Anatomist. Owen was the first Hunterian Professor of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, 1836-56. His work pioneered parthenogenesis and opposed Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. He specialised in Australian extinct and living fossils.

Elizabeth Pope (1912-1993)
Zoologist. Pope spent her entire working life at the Australian Museum, where she eventually became Deputy-Director. She mapped large areas of the Australian coast, and did some of the earliest Australian ecological research. Pope co-authored several books on the seashore with Isobel Bennet and Dakin (her Zoology professor at the University of Sydney).  

Edward Henry Rennie (1852-1927)
Chemist. Rennie was the Angas Professor of Chemistry at the University of Adelaide from 1885. Early in his career he was also a South Australian government analyst and inspector of explosives.

Emma Stone (1860-1902)
Medical Practitioner. Stone was the first female to register with the Medical Board of Victoria; this she did in 1890. She played a leading role in the establishment of the Queen Victoria Hospital, Melbourne, which was funded by a jubilee shilling fund appeal and officially opened in July 1899.

Ralph Tate (1840-1901)
Geologist and Botanist. Tate held the Elder Chair of Natural Science at the University of Adelaide 1875-1901, and published in works on the fields of geology, zoology and botany.

John Tebbutt (1834-1916)
Astronomer and Meteorologist. Tebbutt was born at Windsor, New South Wales, and grew up on his father's properties. He was largely self-educated. He began observations in the 1850s, and in 1863 built his first observatory. Tebbutt discovered several major comets, and published over 400 research papers. He was probably Australia's leading astronomer in his day.

Helen Alma Newton Turner (1908-1995)
Geneticist. Turner was one of the world's leading authorities on sheep genetics and worked with the CSIRO for over forty years. Between 1956 and 1973, she was a Senior Principal Research Scientist in the Division of Animal Genetics and led the CSIRO sheep genetics research team. She was a prolific public communicator, and also conducted experiments on twinning in sheeps. Her work has helped to increase the quality of Australian wool.

John Paul Wild (1923- )
Radiophysicist. Wild was joined the Division of Radiophysics, CSIRO in 1947 and was Chief of the Division, 1971-77. He was also Chair of CSIRO 1978-85.

Richard van der Riet Woolley (1906-1986)
Astronomer. Woolley was Director of the Mount Stromlo Observatory 1939-55, Astronomer Royal, United Kingdom 1956-71, and Director of the South African Astronomical Observatory 1972-76. He was an early and consistent advocate for the Anglo-Australian telescope.

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