Betty Allan

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Frances Elizabeth ("Betty") Allan (1905–1952) was an Australian statistician. She was known as the first statistician at CSIRO,[1] as "the effective founder of the CSIRO Division of Mathematics and Statistics",[2] and for her advocacy of biometrics.[1]

Allan was born on 11 July 1905 in St Kilda, Victoria; her parents wer both journalists with The Argus, and she was one of four sisters.[3][4] As a schoolgirl, she attended the Melbourne Church of England Girls' Grammar School.[3] She studied mathematics at the University of Melbourne,[3][4] earning a bachelor's degree in 1926 and a master's in 1928 for her work with John Henry Michell on solitary waves on liquid-liquid interfaces.[3] She traveled on a scholarship to Newnham College, Cambridge,[3][4] where she worked with Ronald Fisher and John Wishart on agricultural statistics.[3]

Returning to Australia in 1930, she became a biometrician in the Division of Plant Industry of CSIRO. While at CSIRO, she also taught at Canberra University College and the Australian Forestry School.[4] In 1935, she helped found the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science.[3] In 1940 she married CSIRO botanist Patrick Joseph Calvert, and was forced to retire by the laws of the time, which banned married women from public service.[1][4] She died on 6 August 1952 in Canberra.[4]

The Betty Allan Data Centre of CSIRO's Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies is named after her.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Frances Elizabeth (Betty) Allan [1905-1952]", CSIROpedia, retrieved 2019-06-15
  2. ^ McCarthy, G. J. (26 March 2007), "Allan, Frances Elizabeth (Betty) (1905 - 1952)", Encyclopedia of Australian Science
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Heyde, C. C. (1993), "Allan, Frances Elizabeth (Betty) (1905–1952)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Melbourne University Press – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University
  4. ^ a b c d e f Clarke, Patricia (21 February 2013), "Allan, Frances Elizabeth (1905 - 1952)", Australian Women's Register, The National Foundation for Australian Women and University of Melbourne