Date Range: 1908 - 1991
John Stewart Turner came to Melbourne from Cambridge to take up the Chair of Botany and Plant Physiology at the University of Melbourne School of Botany in 1938. He was then aged 29 and one of the youngest Professors to be appointed to a chair at the University. He occupied the position for thirty-five years until his retirement in 1973.
In addition to his teaching and research work at the University of Melbourne, Turner was at various times Dean of Science, Chairman of the Professional Board, Acting Vice-Chancellor, Chairman of the Press Board of Management, and a chairman or member of numerous University committees, as well as various outside bodies. Before his retirement, Professor Turner was the University of Melbourne's Senior Professor. He was succeeded by Professor T.C. (Carrick) Chambers.
From the time of his appointment in 1938, Turner quickly assumed leadership not only at the University of Melbourne, but also in the field of conservation. In 1974 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to Botany, but many believed that the award should have been made for Turner's great works in the fields of conservation and ecology and for his service to the people of Victoria towards the preservation of their natural heritage.
John Stewart Turner died in the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne on the 9 May, 1991.
Date Range: 1906? -
The foundation Professor of the University of Melbourne School of Botany, Alfred James Ewart (1872-1937) was appointed in 1906 when School was housed in the University's Zoology Department. Under Professor Ewart's guidance, the first Botany School was built and opened for operation in November 1929. The building was modern for its time, sporting a large lecture theatre, a constant temperature room, up-to-date sterilisers, glasshouses, a well planned and well equipped laboratory, a library and large gardens. The entire building was furnished from Tasmanian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), the benches, cupboards and furniture from other Australian timbers.
Under the guidance of Professor John Stewart Turner (1908-1991), Professor Ewart's successor, significant changes were made at the School. Turner managed to secure funds for the opening of new wings of the School in 1946 and 1962 respectively, as well as funds for the establishment in 1960 of a field laboratory (originally known as the McLennan Biological Field Station) at Tidal River, Wilson Promontory. During Turner's leadership there were also significant changes made in the direction of research conducted at the schools, with an increasing involvement in plant physiology and ecology.
Today, the function of the School is to promote the study of plant through teaching and research. It's main fields of research, like the study of Botany itself, have greatly expanded to include: plant diversity (plant classification and evolution, marine botany); the environment (plant ecology, plant physiology); plant cells (living cell microscopy, microalgae, cell evolution); pollen and allergens (pollen genes, allergens, the environment and asthma); plant diseases (biology and physiology of plant pathogen interactions); plant biotechnology. The School also includes two research centres, the Plant Cell Biology Research Centre and the Co-operative Research Centre for Industrial Plant Polymers. In order to keep up with the pace and needs of modern day research, the facilities of the School have been greatly modified and updated and the School buildings now house a range of state-of-the-art research equipment.
As of 1996, the Botany School included five professors in all: Professor Pauline Laudiges (Head of the School; Professor Antony Bacic; Professor Adrienne E. Clarke; Professor R. Bruce Knox; and Professor Jeremy D. Pickett-Heaps.