Hedley Marston

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Hedley Marston
CSIRO ScienceImage 1871 Hedley Marston 19001965.jpg
Hedley Marston
Born Hedley Ralph Marston
(1900-08-26)26 August 1900
Bordertown, South Australia
Died 25 August 1965(1965-08-25) (aged 64)
Toorak Gardens, South Australia
Nationality Australian
Alma mater University of Adelaide
Awards Fellow of the Royal Society[1]
Scientific career
Fields biochemistry
Institutions CSIRO

Hedley Ralph Marston FRS FAA (26 August 1900 – 25 August 1965) was an Australian biochemist who worked for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).[2][3][4][5]


Marston was born in Bordertown, South Australia and educated at Unley District High School, Adelaide, where he met Mark Oliphant. He attended the University of Adelaide but did not complete a degree due to failing Mathematics.


Marston was appointed a demonstrator in the university's department of physiology and biochemistry after a chance meeting with Professor Thorburn Robertson in 1922. On 1 March 1928 he joined Robertson's staff in the division of animal nutrition, CSIRO, Adelaide. Marston greatly impressed Robertson, and became the division's acting-chief on Robertson's death in 1930.

Marston claimed a break-through in the treatment of 'coast disease' in sheep; overwhelming evidence, however points to the original discovery by Dick Thomas and E. W. L. Lines.

The New Zealand bacteriologist, Sydney Josland, undertook postgraduate training under the direction of Marston at CSIRO in Adelaide in 1935.[6]

In the 1950s, Marston's research into fallout from the British nuclear tests at Maralinga brought Marston into bitter conflict with the government appointed Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee. He was vindicated posthumously by the McClelland Royal Commission, which found that significant radiation hazards existed at many of the Maralinga test sites long after the tests.

His project also tracked fallout across the continent by examining the thyroids of sheep and cattle as well as devices that filtered radioactive elements from air. Later the results, which showed dramatic increases of certain radioactive elements after British Nuclear Tests, caused a further, controversial study where the bones of deceased people (especially children) were burnt to ash and then measured for Strontium-90. These tests showed that the tests had increased the concentration of Strontium-90 dramatically. As well as finding this after British tests a notable 50% increase was noticed one year when there were no tests and it was cited as evidence that the previous years hydrogen bomb tests had contaminated the majority of the world.

Awards and honours[edit]

Marston was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1957 by the Australian National University. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society[1] and a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.[4]


  1. ^ a b Synge, R. L. M. (1967). "Hedley Ralph Marston 1900-1965". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 13: 267–293. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1967.0014.
  2. ^ Cross, Roger (2000). "Marston, Hedley Ralph (1900 - 1965)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 25 June 2013. First published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000.
  3. ^ Silent Storm, [1],[dead link] Australian Broadcasting Corporation Film Australia
  4. ^ a b E. J. Underwood. "Hedley Ralph Marston 1900-1965". Biographical Memoirs of Deceased Fellows. Australian Academy of Science. Originally published in Records of the Australian Academy of Science, vol. 1, no. 2, Canberra, Australia, 1967.
  5. ^ Tim Sherratt (November 2002). "Book Review - Fallout: Hedley Marston and the British bomb tests". Historical Records of Australian Science. 14 (2): 209–210. Archived from the original on 2006-10-19.
  6. ^ Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, New Zealand, 1936, p. 27.