Born in Australia in 1907, Dorothy Hill developed an early curiosity for palaeontology after finding fossil corals while wandering in the outback in Queensland. After studying geology as an undergraduate and then taking her Master’s degree at the University of Queensland, she won a scholarship to study for a PhD at the University of Cambridge, which she completed in 1933. She would spend almost seven years in England, learning from geologists Gertrude Elles, W.D. Lang, Stanley Smith, and H. Dighton Thomas. After returning to Australia, she continued to forge a career in palaeontology and geology as a Research Fellow studying the corals of Queensland, and mapped large sections of the state in her stratigraphical analysis.

During WWII, Dorothy Hill took both her D.Sc. as well as serving as a Third Officer in the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS).

She returned to academic life following the War and was appointed as a Lecturer at the University of Queensland. Highly driven and energetic, she was a successful teacher, researcher, and role model for hundreds of students. She continued to review specimens from all over Australia and the world, establishing their age and publishing her results in over 150 papers and books.

Hill was a trowelblazer for women in academia as the first female Professor at an Australian university, first female President of the Australian Academy of Science, first President of a Professorial Board in Australia, and the first Australian woman to become a Fellow of the Royal Society. When she retired from full time work in 1972, she was an honoured with a Chair named for her at the Department of Geology. Two medals are given in her name, by the Australian Academy of Science and the Geological Society of Australia. A research vessel on the Great Barrier Reef is named for her extensive work in setting up the Marine Research Station at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef and the University of Queensland Dorothy Hill Engineering and Sciences Library is named for her.


Post by Kellie Ashley, Dorothy Hill Engineering and Sciences Library, University of Queensland.

Images of Dorothy Hill from University of Queensland Fryer Library and used under CC BY 4.0 and CC BY 3.0 licenses.


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One thought on “Dorothy Hill

  1. Steve says:

    It is always refreshing to read about the success of women, no matter what their field. I salute all our heroines.

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