Anna Macleod

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Anna MacGillivray Macleod (15 May 1917 – 13 August 2004) was a Scottish biochemist and academic. She was a professor at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. She was the first female Professor of Brewing and Biochemistry in the world.[1]


Born in Kirkhill,[2] she was the daughter of the Rev. Alasdair MacGillivray Macleod and Margaret Ingram Sangster. Her family lineage traces to the Isle of Lewis, where her grandfather, Rev. George Macleod, was the Minister of Garrabost. Her father was born on Lewis. She was second cousin to politician and former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Iain Norman Macleod. Her family belongs to the branch of Macleods of Pabbay and Uig.

Her father died at an early age. Her two brothers were both doctors of medicine: her elder brother was John George Macleod, editor of Davidson's Textbook of Medicine and the author of Clinical Examination, and her younger brother was Alasdair MacGillivray Macleod, a general practitioner in Linlithgow.[3]

Education & profession[edit]

Anna Macleod was educated at Invergordon Academy and Edinburgh Ladies' College. She graduated from Edinburgh University with a Bachelor of Science in botany. She joined the faculty of Heriot-Watt University in 1945, where she remained until her retirement in 1977. She returned in 1951 to Edinburgh University to study for her PhD. In the late 1960s, she was awarded a Doctor of Science, from Edinburgh University, for a thesis on the germination of barley.[4]

In 1961, together with Leslie Samuel Cobley, she co-edited "Contemporary Botanical Thought", published by Oliver and Boyd. She edited the Journal of the Institute of Brewing from 1964 to 1976, and she was the first female President of that organisation (now the Institute of Brewing and Distilling), from 1970 to 1972. In 1975, she was appointed Professor of Brewing at Heriot-Watt. In 1976, she was the recipient of the Horace Brown medal. She retired in 1977, as professor emeritus.

In 1993, Heriot-Watt awarded her an honorary Doctorate of Science [5] for her discovery of gibberellic acid, which was an advantage for the maltsters, as it shortened the malting process.[4] At that occasion, the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Professor Philip G. Harper, mentioned that Macleod’s association with the brewing industry puts her in the same fraternity as other scientists, such as James Watt (power), Louis Pasteur (pasteurisation), Peter Griess (colour chemistry), Joseph Williams Lovibond (colour physics), Gosset (statistics) and the man after whom the medal was named. He said that she was recognised nationally and internationally with distinction as a university teacher, scholar, scientist, technologist and as a brewer.[6]

One of her PhD. students, Geoff Palmer, first worked with her on the research of barley and they published numerous papers together. He then became her successor at the Heriot-Watt.

Death and legacy[edit]

Anna Macleod died at St.Raphaels, Edinburgh on 13 August 2004.

Heriot-Watt University's Brewing and Distilling department, as it is now called, started the Anna Macleod Scholarship with a financial gift she had bequeathed to that University in her will.[citation needed]



  1. ^ International women in science, retrieved April 1, 2013
  2. ^ Haines, Catharine M. C (2001-08-01). "Macleod, Anna MacGillivray". International women in science: a biographical dictionary to 1950. pp. 190–191. ISBN 978-1-57607-090-1. 
  3. ^ The Macleods - The Genealogy of a Clan, Section Four by Alick Morrison, M.A., by Associated Clan Macleod Societies, Edinburgh, 1974
  4. ^ a b "Anna MacLeod". The Scotsman. 6 September 2004. 
  5. ^ "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". Retrieved 2016-04-05. 
  6. ^ Heriot-Watt University, retrieved 1 April 2013


  • The Macleods - The Genealogy of a Clan, Section Four by Alick Morrison, M.A., by Associated Clan Macleod Societies, Edinburgh, 1974
  • The MacLeods - The Genealogy of a Clan, Section Four by The Late Major Loudoun Hector Davenport MacLeod, RM, 1988

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Clifford Furness Mackay
President of the Institute of Brewing
1970 – 1972
Succeeded by
Ewart Agnew Boddington