Dorothy Hill

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Dorothy Hill, AC, CBE, FAA, FRS[1] (10 September 1907 – 23 April 1998) was an Australian geologist, the first female professor at an Australian university, and the first female president of the Australian Academy of Science.


Dorothy Hill grew up in Brisbane and attended Brisbane Girls Grammar School after first attending Coorparoo State School. Following high school she considered studying medicine and lentering her life in medical research, but at the time the University of Queensland did not offer a medical degree, and the Hill family could not afford to send Dorothy to Sydney. Luckily, she won one of twenty entrance scholarships to the University of Queensland, where she decided to study science, in particular chemistry. She chose to study geology as an elective, and under the guidance of Professor H.C. Richards she graduated in 1928 with a First Class Honours degree in Geology, the University's Gold Medal for outstanding Merit and a scholarship to study at the Sedgwick Museum at University of Cambridge.


Dorothy Hill studied at Cambridge University from 1931 to 1933 obtaining her PhD. She remained in England for seven years, publishing several important papers systemetising the terminology for describing Rugose corals, and describing their structure and morphology.[2] When Hill returned to Australia she took on the huge task of dating the limestone coral faunas of Australia, using them to outline wide-ranging stratigraphy, and producing papers on the coral faunas of all states except South Australia. Her work on corals became the worldwide standard.

During World War II Hill enlisted in the Women's Royal Australian Naval Service. She worked 80–90 hours a week on cipher and coding of shipping orders.

In 1956 Hill became a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.[3] In 1964 Hill was awarded the Lyell Medal for scientific research by the Geological Society of London.[3] She served time on Academy committees, becoming Vice-President in 1969 and became the first female President in 1970, following the death of David Forbes Martyn. At the end of her term of office she did not seek re-election.

Hill also contributed several notable publications. In 1956, she completed a volume on coelenterates for the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology. She wrote a second volume for the treatise on Archaeocyathida in 1972. In 1978, Hill completed the comprehensive Bibliography and Index of Australian Paleozoic Coral.[2]

Professor Hill made incredible contributions to Australian Earth science and was a pivotal factor in opening a whole new world of education to women. Professor Hill was the first woman president of the University of Queensland. In 1981, Hill won the W. R. Browne Medal of the Geological Society of Australia.[3]


  1. ^ Campbell, K. S. W.; Jell, J. S. (1999). "Dorothy Hill, A.C., C.B.E. 10 September 1907 -- 23 April 1997: Elected F.R.S. 1965". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 45: 195. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1999.0014.  edit
  2. ^ a b Oakes, Elizabeth. International Encyclopedia of Women Scientists. 2002. Facts on File. ISBN 0816043817
  3. ^ a b c "Hill, Dorothy (1907 - 1997)". Encyclopedia of Australian Science. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 


Preceded by
Mabel Josephine Mackerras
Clarke Medal
Succeeded by
S. Smith White