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School of Botany (1906 - )

Faculty of Science
Go to Gallery Page School of Botany
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Function: Academic Department
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Botany was the last of the scientific disciplines encompassed in the original Chair of Natural History to gain a professorship in its own right. Initially the subject was housed in an extension to the north side of the Biology building.

URL: The home page for this entity is located at http://www.botany.unimelb.edu.au/
Alternative Names:
  • Botany School, Department of Botany (Parallel)


System Garden established - The botanical garden was laid out by Edward La Trobe Bateman on a round plan with concentric beds and paths on approximately four acres in the north western corner of the University grounds.


System garden: an octagonal glass house was built with a central brick tower.


The Botany Library commences in Professor Ewart's room, and is built up as a departmental library especially after moving to the new Botany Building in 1929


Professor Alfred James Ewart writes to the Council that he is still in temporary accomodation, although student numbers have risen to more than 200 in the four year botany course. He pleads for a 'Botanical Building' to be erected.


H.M.R Rupp donates his collection of pressed plants to the University, which forms the beginning of the Herbarium

29 November 1929

Premier William McPherson opens the new Botany building. Funds had been so low that comforts like heating and shelving had been foresaken so that the installation of benches in the lecture theatres and darkroom were possible.

1938 - 1974

Chairman of Department: John Stewart Turner

1939 - 1945

Dept utilised as part of the war effort: vegetation survey of Victoria for the army (R.T. Patton), cleaning & proofing of optical munitions against fungal attack (E.I. McLennan), curating of Penicillium cultures, search for other soilborne antibiotics etc

c. 1945 - c. 1955

From the latter war years, and into the early 1950s, large teams of staff and students work regularly in January on the Victorian Alps project in conjunction with the State Electricity Commission and Soil Conservation Authority.


New wing of Botany school opens


Turner fosters experimental vegetation analysis with his students while D.W. Goodall pioneers his mathematical methodology for the classification of vegetation. The ecological bias of the dept leads to soil-fungi distribution studies (McLennan & students)


The 'Brown Coal Research Unit', a Turner initiative, is funded jointly by the University of Melbourne, CSIRO and State Electricity Commission. The small staff of this unit pioneer the descriptions of the plant remains of the Latrobe Valley Brown Coals.


In the late 1950s, another unit in collaboration with the CSIRO and Division of Food Preservation is established to research the physiology of fruit ripening.


Ecology is becoming a key area, and Ray Specht is appointed Reader


The need and search for a permanent field station arises and one is specially built, the laboratory called 'McLennan' in the Wilson's Promontory National Park


Two major developments take place greatly facilitating the expansion of the department - the provision of an entire floor in the Barry Building for accomodating first year teaching & the erection of a new wing in the northern side of the Botany Building.


New fields of research emerge - fine structure molecular biology and electron microscopy.


Australian Universities Commission finances a 'state of the art' electron microsope the - a Siemens Elmiskop I. Soon after, special appointments are made to service and coordinate the newly established combined biology courses for first year


Completion of new wing

1966 - 1967

An additional chair of botany was created and filled by Carrick Chambers in January 1967

1967 - 1969

The Universities come on tougher times and 1967 sees the beginning of severe financial cuts (the famous '7% cut') which takes effect in 1968 - 1969 through to the early seventies.


Under the Departmental Statute, each department is required to forward to the Vice Chancellor through the Dean of the appropriate faculty, a nomination for Chairman (later known as Head).


The 'Chair of Botany and Plant Physiology' is vacant and its title changed to the 'Chair of Botany' to which Bruce Knox is appointed. This brings a new area of research into the School, pollination biology and the study of recognition systems in plants

1975 - 1979

Chairman of Department: Donald Malcolm Calder


University is supported by the Commonwealth governments 'Centres for Excellence Scheme', of a joint proposal from Knox and Adrienne Clark for a Centre for Plant Cell Biology.

1980 - 1984

Chairman of Department: Thomas Carrick Chambers


Chairman of Department: Peter Attiwill


The School of Botany Foundation is formed to raise funds for training plant scientists and to guide in the allocation of funds


Award: NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship - C. Suphioglu


Award: Frederick White Prize - G. McFadden


Award: Victoria Fellowship - R. Waller


Award: Whitely Award for the best Conservation Biology book - M. A. Burgman and D. L. Lindenmayer

1 July 1999

The Cooperative Research Centre for Bioproducts opens

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Structure based on ISAAR(CPF) - click here for an explanation of the fields.Prepared by: Carolyn Rasmussen & Rachel Tropea
Created: 22 August 2001
Modified: 21 March 2002

Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre on AustehcWeb, October 2001
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: http://www.esrc.unimelb.edu.au/about/inquiries.html#comment
Prepared by: Acknowledgements
Updated: 16 November 2009

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