UQ scientist commemorated in new electoral district and Commonwealth Games street

23 March 2017

Twenty years after her death, distinguished University of Queensland geologist and Australian scientific giant Professor Dorothy Hill is still collecting honours.

Professor Hill, AC, CBE (1907-1997) is commemorated in the proposed Queensland electorate district of Hill, in North Queensland, which combines parts of the seats of Dalrymple and Mulgrave. 

Hill electoral district includes parts of the Great Barrier Reef, which she studied, as well as the Atherton Tableland, and towns such as Ravenshoe, Malanda, Innisfail, Tully and Babinda.

The City of Gold Coast has also approved the naming of Hill Street, at Parklands on the Gold Coast, as part of the City’s Health and Knowledge Precinct, and location for the Commonwealth Games 2018

The City of Gold Coast’s Parklands Street naming rationale document said streets in the precinct honoured eight key people who have significantly contributed to Sport, Health and Knowledge in the State, and in Professor Hill’s case, to Science and Innovation. 

People with a University of Queensland connection also honoured in the Council’s Health and Knowledge precinct include Australian of the Year 2008 and co-inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine Professor Ian Frazer (Frazer Street); and Olympic gold medallist swimmer Dr Kieren Perkins OAM (Perkins Lane).

Dorothy Hill Chair in Palaeontology Professor Gregg Webb of UQ’s School of Earth and Environmental Sciences said Professor Hill was an outstanding Australian geologist and palaeontologist who brought great credit to Australian science while breaking glass ceilings for women.

“Dorothy was the first female Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (1956) and the first female President of the Academy (1970),” he said.

“She was the first Australian woman elected to the Royal Society (1965); and the first woman in an Australian university to be president of her university's professorial board (1971-1972).”

The third of seven children, Professor Hill was also a notable sportswoman, being an accomplished horse rider and participating in hurdles, running, hockey and rowing at University.

She also took a pilot’s licence at Cambridge University, where she studied in the 1930s after obtaining a 1st Class Honours and Master of Science from UQ.  

She was Research Professor of Geology at The University of Queensland from 1959-1972 and published widely on palaeontology, stratigraphy and geology.

Professor Hill’s studies included research on the Great Barrier Reef. A research specialist in ancient fossil corals, she eventually published more than 100 papers in this field, and named numerous new species previously unknown to science.

She edited the Journal of the Geological Society of Australia, and received an honorary doctorate of laws for leadership in university administration.

She is honoured in many ways, including having a UQ library named after her, a professorial chair in palaeontology, a grotesque in UQ’s Great Court, a PhD scholarship, national and state science prizes and a specialised coring rig for reef research.

Professor Hill was awarded the CBE in 1971 for services to geology and palaeontology, and received an AC in 1993.

To learn more about her achievements, view her Australian Academy of Science profile: https://www.science.org.au/fellowship/fellows/biographical-memoirs/dorothy-hill-1907-1997 or enjoy Dr Gilbert Price’s interesting Small Change blog reflecting on her legacy and the importance of her humble rock hammer: https://small-change.uq.edu.au/blog/2016/03/hammer-shaped-university

Donate to support the Dorothy Hill Chair here.