Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nancy Millis on Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day and the person I am choosing to write about is my lecturer in microbiology, Dr Nancy Millis.

Dr Millis was born in 1922, the same year as my father was born. Despite all the barriers she faced, particularly early on in her studies and career, she made a huge contribution to science and education in Australia.

Dr Millis was refused entry to the Science Degree solely because of her sex, and instead took a degree in agricultural science at the University of Melbourne (where she later lectured we third year students in microbiology). She obtained a Masters Degree from The University of Melbourne and a PhD from Bristol University in the UK. In 1977 she was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in recognition of her achievements. In 1990 she was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). And in 1993, she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science (DSc (Hon)) from the University of Melbourne.

Nancy introduced fermentation technologies to Australia and established the first applied microbiology course in Australia, at the University of Melbourne. She impressed me as being possibly the most knowledgeable and expert lecturer in my Ag Science degree course. She was also one of the older lecturers but full of energy. Her brilliance was evident at every class. I was unfortunate to miss a lot of her lectures because I became ill part way through the year, but was grateful for what opportunity I did have.

Nancy Millis went on to become the Chancellor of Latrobe University in Melbourne from 1992, retiring in 2006.

More details can be found here.

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