Professor Beryl Nashar (1923-2012), geologist

Professor Beryl Nashar. Interview sponsored by the Mazda Foundation.

Professor Beryl Nashar was the first Australian woman to be awarded a Rotary Foundation Fellowship, which she took in Cambridge. At the University of Tasmania she became the first Australian to be awarded a PhD in geology from an Australian university. Initially appointed lecturer in geology at Newcastle University College (part of the then New South Wales University of Technology), she became Foundation Professor of Geology when the University of Newcastle was formed. Here, four years later, Professor Nashar became the first woman dean of science at an Australian university. Her early research addressed the geology of the Stanhope district in the Hunter Valley. This later included the mineralogy, geochemistry and genetic relations of the Carboniferous and Permian andesitic associations of eastern New South Wales. During her career, Professor Nashar's expertise in educational matters was used by her university, local expert boards and committees, and governments.

Interviewed by Ms Nessy Allen in 2001.



Beryl Nashar, a specialist in petrology and mineralogy, achieved many firsts. With an outstanding academic record, she was the first woman in Australia to win a Rotary Foundation Fellowship, which she took in Cambridge. She was the first Australian to be awarded a PhD in geology from an Australian university. She was one of the first women professors in an Australian university, and she was the first woman dean of science in an Australian university.

Her early research addressed the geology of the Stanhope district in the Hunter Valley. This was later extended to embrace the mineralogy, geochemistry and genetic relations of the Carboniferous and Permian andesitic associations of eastern New South Wales, and the conditions of formation of secondary minerals in these andesitic and basic rocks.

Another of her major contributions has been in the public sector. Her expertise was used by her university, by many local expert committees and boards in the Newcastle area, and by governments in relation to educational institutions and courses.

An intelligent family

Beryl, to begin at the beginning, where were you born?

I was born in Maryville, a suburb of Newcastle, New South Wales, on 9 July 1923 – which meant I grew up during the Depression. I was the eldest of four children. Strange to say, we all succeeded professionally. For example, the brother next to me was the general manager for engineering in BHP in Melbourne. The brother next to him is now an Emeritus Professor. He was Professor of Education, Dean of the Faculty of Education and later Assistant Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University. My sister was a nursing sister, and I understand a very lovely one.

Were your parents professional people?

No, but they were very intelligent and I'm sure if they'd been born into today's society they would have been academics. My father, who was about 11 or 12 when he arrived in Australia from Glasgow, trained as a fitter and turner. When he retired he was maintenance engineer at Stewarts and Lloyds – it is now Tubemakers – and his job was taken over by a graduate.

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Gravitating towards geology

How did you become interested in science?

I really can't remember when I first became interested in science. At primary school in Cardiff I enjoyed nature study classes, and I used to enjoy observing nature as I walked across the paddocks and paddled on the way to school. I did very well in primary school, topping the class every year, so it was obvious that I would get to Newcastle Girls' High School, which was the school for girls in those days.

I don't think I was ever meant to be a scientist. I was in the 'A' class, where we did not only English but French, German and Latin – a background of languages but very little science. I did chemistry and mathematics until third year, and then I dropped chemistry in favour of geology in fourth and fifth year. At the Leaving Certificate I was first in the state in geology.

Did your teachers, or your parents, influence you at all?

I suppose I had a kind of crush on the science mistress. She was a former graduate of Sydney University and had done geology, and she did influence me. And my mother was fantastic. She went without the niceties of life in the Depression to enable us to stay at school. I was very lucky in that respect.

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University studies: 'The rocks used to talk to me'

Was it automatic that, having done so well at school, you would automatically go on to university?

No. I was the first of the generations to go to university. I was very conscious that I had three siblings behind me who had to be educated too, but I did win an Exhibition from Sydney University and also I had a teachers' college scholarship. So I had the wherewithal, as it were, to do a university degree in science.

I wanted to do the Earth sciences – geology and geography – and also it was compulsory to choose two subjects out of chemistry, physics and mathematics. I selected mathematics and chemistry, but I've always regretted I never did physics. I don't know where I'd have fitted it in, but I always wished I'd done it.

You topped your year in geology, didn't you?

Yes, I won the prize every year. At the end of third year, the end of my pass degree, I was asked to join the staff in a very junior position as a demonstrator. Doing that meant I had to defer my Honours course for one year, until 1946. And again I was very successful: I got First Class Honours and won the University Medal. Also,I got a research scholarship.

What work did you do for your Honours thesis?

The Honours course at the time entailed lectures, seminars and things like that, followed by an exam. (We even had to do scientific French and German so that we could read scientific papers in those languages.) The other part was a research project, and I did the geology of the Stanhope district, in the Hunter Valley.

I used to spend all the university vacations in the field, otherwise I'd never have got it done. I think I knew and loved every outcrop of rock. Dr W R Browne, my supervisor for the field work, told everyone the rocks used to talk to me! The first scientific paper I ever wrote was on my Honours work, the geology of the Stanhope district, and it was published in 1948 in the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales.

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Schoolteacher or geologist? The big decision

So you decided to become a geologist.

In 1947 I was asked to join the staff again as a demonstrator, and I did. But in 1948 I had to decide: schoolteacher or geologist? I was bonded to the New South Wales Department of Education and I felt that to do the right thing I had to do my DipEd. And I had enjoyed the demonstrating at the university. On the other hand, I wasn't sure what life as a woman geologist would be like. So I did my DipEd – and once again I did very well, and was proxime accessit to the prize. I really enjoyed it. It's amazing how many of the students who did the DipEd hated it, but I enjoyed it!

You decided, then, to become a teacher?

I did. My first appointment was at the school which was called Hunter Girls' High School, in Newcastle. The headmistress was the science mistress who had influenced me in the early days at Newcastle Girls' High – just across the street – and she wanted me on her staff.

But I'd only been teaching one day when I received a telegram (are there any telegrams today?) offering me a position as a demonstrator in the University of Tasmania. I took it because I couldn't stand either playground duty or signing in and signing off each day. And I paid up my bond.

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To Cambridge on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship

What happened when you took up the position at the University of Tasmania?

Although I was appointed as a demonstrator, it was virtually a lectureship. I carried a very full load of teaching as if I were a lecturer, and even helped design courses. That too was great experience.

It was a privilege to work under Professor Carey, the head of department. He was a man of vision – a thinker, an innovator. A lot of people suggested I shouldn't go down there, but I can honestly say I learned so much from that man. It was a pleasure to work with him. He became known worldwide as one of Australia's foremost geologists, and although he's an old man now, he still writes.

Well, before accepting the position there I had told him I had applied for a Rotary Foundation Fellowship. (He said it didn't matter.) Again I was lucky: I won the fellowship and Professor Carey was very happy to give me a project, enrol me in a PhD and become my supervisor. So off I went to Cambridge in 1949 for 12 months, to the Department of Mineralogy and Petrology.

You were one of the first women in the world to win such a fellowship.

I was actually one of the first recipients, because 1948 was when they were first given. I certainly was the first woman in Australia, and there wouldn't have been many women elsewhere in the world because Rotary was then a man's organisation.

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An international marriage

I believe you met your future husband at Cambridge.

Yes. It's strange, because my husband Ali was Egyptian and a philosopher, not in any scientific field. The Department of Mineralogy and Petrology contained about 15 different nationalities, and we used to have coffee parties. Our Egyptian colleague brought Ali along one night to one of these, and I met him there. We were married in Cairo in 1952, after I'd finished my PhD – and only a matter of days later we went off to Madrid, where Ali was appointed Director of the Egyptian Institute.

I came home in late '53 to give birth to our son, and went back to Egypt at the beginning of 1954. By this time, Ali was appointed to Lebanon. It wasn't the best sort of place politically to bring up our son, so towards the end of '54 it was decided I would come back to Australia and Ali would follow me when he could. This turned out to be a long time, though. Ali died in 1980, never actually having lived in Australia – he'd only visited, and I used to visit over there.

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Adventures in Tasmanian geology

You said your PhD was the first in Professor Carey's department. How did the year in Cambridge contribute to you getting a PhD from the University of Tasmania?

That year was allowed to be counted towards my PhD, which probably wasn't quite as usual then as it would be now. People used to have to go overseas to get a PhD, anyway. I ended up, in 1952, getting the first Australian PhD in geology.

What did you work on?

I worked on the Cambrian volcanic rocks of Tasmania. This meant having to first of all find out where they were – I had to go out into the field and map them if they hadn't already been mapped – and then collect them, bring them back into the laboratory, look at them under the microscope, and do chemical analyses and X-ray crystallography. Fortunately, in Cambridge I did a course in X-ray crystallography. (I ended up demonstrating in it. It was fairly new to me, but it's amazing how quickly you learn.)

Professor Carey loved to be first in bringing new equipment and ideas into the department, so he asked me to buy an X-ray camera for the department, one that you could use for powder photography. He had acquired an old medical generator from a friend, and this was supposed to have been changed a bit to produce suitable X-rays for the powder camera. Well, when I started to use it I got funny results, very foggy. I couldn't find out what went wrong, so I sent a copy and a letter to the company that I bought the camera from.

I can still remember to this day that one Sunday morning the police came to where I was staying in Hobart. They said, 'Are you Beryl Scott?' and one of them told me, 'You must stop using that camera immediately.' I looked at him, wondering why. He said, 'The X-rays are going right round the room and they're terribly dangerous.' I said I knew they were not very healthy things, but he insisted, 'You've just got to stop.' I found out later that the generator was the culprit. It was producing the long, soft X-rays that are used for medical purposes, whereas the X-rays that we use in crystallography are very short and very hard. That generator got short shrift!

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Admired mentors

Did you have any mentors at university?

All the staff in the Sydney University department were wonderful. I went through during the war years, when the numbers were down. We were all friendly, and spending hours in the laboratory we got to know each other fairly well. But in particular I greatly admired Dr Germaine Joplin, who was a very, very able petrologist. In spite of only having sight in one eye, she did absolutely fantastic drawings of the rocks under the microscope. (There was no such thing as microphotography in those days.) She had gone to Cambridge as a Linnaean Macleay Fellow and studied there for her PhD in the Department of Mineralogy and Petrology. Professor Tilley, a former Australian, was head of department, and I later became one of many Australians who studied there under him.

Would you say Professor Carey, at the University of Tasmania, was a mentor to you?

I would. In supervising my PhD, he encouraged me to publish as I went along, as the work progressed. I wrote four papers, and he said, 'Right, they're going to be part of your thesis. No examiner will fail you if your work has been reviewed and accepted for publication in international journals.' And so at the start of my thesis I explain, 'You read them in this order,' to cover those four papers.

Also, this being his first PhD – the first higher degree, actually – in the department, he was very conscious that it had to be a high standard. He made sure I had three external examiners from throughout the world: England, the USA and South Africa.

After you completed your PhD did you ever have another mentor?

No – I became the mentor!

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Lecturing at a fledgling university college

In about 1955, I think, you were offered a lectureship in what was then Newcastle University College.

That's right. It was an interesting story. I applied for a job I saw in the paper and three different lots of people wanted me. I took the one in the University College, which was a fledgling college, as only the second member of the geology staff.

My goodness, it was small. So how was geology taught by the two of you?

Geology was taught in the School of Mining Engineering and Applied Geology, and the students used to get a degree called Bachelor of Engineering – Applied Geology. The course was designed and examined in Sydney, because Newcastle University College was a college of the New South Wales University of Technology (which in 1957 became the University of New South Wales). It wasn't until about 1960, when Newcastle set up its academic board of studies, that we were allowed to design our own course and examine it. The only stipulation was it had to be of the correct standard, but we had no troubles there.

What research were you doing there?

It was an extension of the work I did for my Honours degree. I was always very interested in the andesitic rocks of the Hunter Valley, and what I had done in Stanhope became part of a bigger study in eastern Australia of the mineralogy of the rocks, their geochemistry, the genetic relationships of one to the other. I was also very interested in the secondary minerals that were associated with these rocks – how did they form, where did the solutions come from?

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Expanded roles in a fully-fledged university

Five years after becoming the first woman member of the geology staff, you were promoted to senior lecturer, and only four years further on, in 1964, you became an associate professor.

Yes. And then on 1 January 1965, when we became the University of Newcastle, Geology became the Department of Geology within the Faculty of Science, and I became the foundation Professor of Geology in October 1965.

So your progress to full professor and head of the department was very fast. Were there other women professors on the staff?

Oh no. There was quite a big gap before that happened. There was no other woman professor until we got the Faculty of Medicine, if I remember correctly, and a woman psychiatrist had a Chair. There were very few women in the whole of the college to start with.

I believe your Chair was advertised not only in Australia but throughout the world.

It was, like all the others at that time. I was quite uncertain whether I would apply – don't forget I had a family to look after. But my male colleagues urged me to apply. (I think it was better the devil they knew than one they didn't!) This being one of the early Chairs in the university, great care was taken to be careful and very selective, to set high standards. They would set up a selection committee, say, in Britain for the European applicants, and probably one in America for the Americans. I understand that my closest competitor came from South Africa and they even brought him over to have a look at him. I was successful, however.

In 1969 you were elected Dean of the Faculty of Science, weren't you?

Yes. I've been told that it was the first time a woman had been dean of science. In fact, I could've been the first woman dean of anything in those days. But it was the men who elected me. Perhaps they didn't want the job!

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Administrative responsibilities + students – money = dreams of research

All these administrative responsibilities must have drastically reduced the time available to you.

Oh, they did. All I could do was keep on encouraging my staff, trying to get the facilities, the equipment, money, to build up the department. I did the best I could under the circumstances.

Did you have many students?

The numbers dropped in 1967 when the Leaving Certificate ceased and the Higher School Certificate came in. Then we had a mineral boom from 1969 to about 1972, when geology became the subject that people wanted to do. We had huge numbers. Do you know, we needed three buses to take our first-year students on an excursion. But in 1973, when biology was introduced into the Faculty of Science, our numbers dropped again. You could say that geology, being a vocational-type subject, depended on the need for it in industry and the community, and our numbers fluctuated. It was very interesting.

Funding for the department depended upon the number of EFTS – effective full-time students. You can call them 'bods on seats' if you like, but most of our bods on seats were half-time. In Newcastle a lot of the students were coming from industry, so each had to be counted as a half EFTS.

I understand that you feel strongly about senior academics teaching first-year students.

Very much so, because sometimes there's a tendency to bring in the youngest or the most junior member of staff, who lacks experience. I was keen that most of us, and I in particular, should teach the first year. We taught in our speciality, but I always gave the first lecture – I told them, for example, they must never come into the department without their shoes. It sounds funny, but I didn't want them to drop a box of rocks on their feet. So you'd see them wait outside the door, take off their thongs or whatever and put their shoes on. I set the rules for the department in the very first lecture.

For the sake of the students from industry, we had to repeat our lectures at night. In the second- and third-year subjects there wouldn't have been enough students to warrant repeats, so we used to have those lectures around about 5 o'clock. When you've got a family to look after, it's not easy, but I always made sure that I did my share. I did not believe in asking others to do things I wouldn't do myself.

I also did my share of taking field excursions, which I used to enjoy – it's amazing what you learn round a campfire. We had a very happy department, I think because the students got to know us and we got to know them.

What research were you doing by then?

Gosh, you didn't have much time to do research. And the place was very much underequipped, understaffed, with no money for research. The thought of a research assistant was just a dream, miles off. It was my duty, any rate, to try and bring the department up, and as the staff started to grow I used to encourage them to do research, to take a vital role in the development of the department and apply for research money.

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Drawn into the committee sphere

Once you became a professor, I understand you were put on a number of committees.

You're not kidding. Committees – bane of my life! At first they were university committees and then I was somehow or other put on quite a number of committees in the public arena.

I was on the board of directors of Royal Newcastle Hospital for 16 years and 4 months. And strangely enough, when we were fighting for a medical school, guess who was one of the leaders. In fact, I happened to be on the interim faculty board of the medical school – all rocks and that! – in the Faculty of Medicine.

On the board of directors of the Royal I worked, naturally, with the chairman, and as a result I was invited to join the board of directors of Greater Newcastle Building Society. I didn't even have any money with them, so what did I do? I had to go to my bank, very quickly, and transfer money to the society. I ended up giving them five years, which I think is a reasonable time for any organisation, and for three of those years I was the chairman of the board of directors.

Were you on any education committees?

Too many. I was on the Secondary Schools Board from 1970 to '75. (It was Dame Leonie Kramer who took my place.) From 1982 to 1987 I was a member of the academic committee of the Higher Education Board. That committee was responsible for assessing a lot of the college of advanced education courses, which came under the jurisdiction of the Higher Education Board. I really had a fill of the committees.

Wasn't there one for research as well, the Hunter Valley Research Foundation?

Well, we had very bad floods in 1955, the year I started in Newcastle. Eventually we set up the foundation, and I was invited to join the advisory panel for it.

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Post-retirement committee work: some mixed results

Even after you retired, governments continued to value your expertise and you played an important role in the development of higher education in New South Wales – firstly on the committee of review for the then New South Wales Institute of Technology.

Yes. The institute was having a bit of trouble at the time, and the council in its wisdom decided to set up this committee to look into what would be the best administration in the 1980s. I was appointed as the external member, and Justice Wootten, who was the president of the institute – equivalent to the chancellor of a normal university – appointed me as convenor of the working panel on management. I said, 'Sir, I know nothing about the institute.' He said, 'That's why.'

It involved a lot of work. I was going to Sydney and back twice a week for not only the normal committee meetings but also this management committee. It took us four years to do a very lengthy report – 382 pages. But where do all reports end up? Top shelf? I don't know.

You were also a member of the ministerial committee of four, investigating the need for a new university in western Sydney.

That's right. (I think a committee of four was the next-best thing to a committee of one.) It was August when we were appointed. The urgency was stressed and we were asked to give at least an indicative report before the end of the year. So we worked our butts off, and submitted our report on 20 December.

We recommended that there be a multi-campus university in the western Sydney region. We even suggested the name might be the Western Sydney State University, but of course this was later changed to the University of Western Sydney.

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The underpinnings of a major role in public affairs

Did you make these major contributions in public affairs because you wanted to, or because you felt you had to?

It would have been a step backwards for women if I hadn't. People would always have said, 'Well, we offered it to Beryl Nashar and she didn't do it.' Also, working with the chairman of the hospital board gave me another let into the economic side of things. But I have very strong feelings that people who have received help in a broader sense – in my case to get an education – should give something back to society. I don't agree with people who say the world owes them a living.

Clearly you have a strong sense of social responsibility. Did your childhood instil these values into you?

Probably so. I came from a working family and was very privileged. And a lot of my working life has been in Newcastle; I'm a Novocastrian by birth and I was educated at Newcastle Girls' High School. So I'm only giving back a little to this community.

You were the only woman member on all your committees, I believe.

And I behaved impeccably!

Apart from being a woman, why were you chosen?

Probably because of my scientific training. A scientist learns to think scientifically and logically, and if you put this into practice you can come up with a decent report. You can make every point a winner if you try hard enough. I never overstood the mark and said I was a feminist or anything like that; I always showed that from my training as a scientist I had the qualifications – and I was prepared to work hard.

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Reflections on discrimination

During your career you have often achieved things as the first or the only woman. Would you say you were ever discriminated against on the basis of your sex?

Yes, salary-wise! I was only given 85 per cent of a man's salary, yet my qualifications were far superior to those of the majority of men. By 1958 there were four academic women on the staff, and a case was taken to court. I was lined up to give evidence, but thank God, over lunch they decided to make the award out of court. My male colleagues had been so supportive, really wonderful, that we gave them a great party afterwards.

You don't feel you have encountered any discrimination apart from that?

No. But I've had to work hard – I think you have to work twice as hard as a man to get recognition. I certainly can't complain about the support I had from my staff, and the administration staff in Newcastle were very good. They told me that my department was the best-run one in the university.

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The Federation of Business and Professional Women

A major interest of yours is the Federation of Business and Professional Women.

That's right. Although I had a very good fellowship from Rotary Foundation, in those days women couldn't be Rotarians so I joined BPW, Business and Professional Women. I was president of my club, Newcastle, from 1958 to 1961 and again in 1968. Also, I was the national president of the Australian Federation from 1964 to '66, and then I had the peak job as international president from 1974 to 1977. That was a fantastic experience.

I think you were the only senior academic member, certainly in Australia.

I do seem to have been one of the most senior academics. There weren't many – there could have been graduates or lecturers, but nobody was professor. In European countries and in South America there were other women professors, but most of the Australian women probably joined the International Federation of University Women or something like that.

I had great support from both the university vice-chancellors – the foundation vice-chancellor until he left, at about the time that I became international president, and then the new one. They were very, very good. They reckoned that I brought honour to the university by having this job, and the university should make it possible for me to cope with it so I had no qualms about using my secretary to assist. I couldn't have managed without that help.

You were still teaching, including at night. How did you fit that in?

Well, I must tell you I had a bag permanently packed, and it was nothing for me to go to London to have an executive meeting over the weekend. I never missed a lecture, but I had to reschedule. It's amazing what you can do – if you try.

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Publications for all ages

You found the time to publish four books and some 30 research papers. Can you say something about them?

I found I had the ability to write books for children, explaining geological concepts in very simple terms. It's quite surprising what you can teach very young children, even at, say, three years of age. For example, you can use water rushing down the gutter after a storm as an example of deposits of sediments. And from a very early age they're fantastic in the way they can get their tongues round the fossil names.

The first book I wrote concerned the geology of the Hunter Valley, and its beautiful exposure of the coal measures along Newcastle beaches. It used to amuse me to see not only children but adults with my book in their hands, looking at this. As a result, I would often be asked to take children on excursions, and this is where I learned what you can tell children. It's caught on: now I've got two grandchildren who ask, 'Grandma! When can we go fossil hunting?' So maybe they're the next generation.

The books may have been for children, but an American reviewer said of one of them, 'We could use many books of this type in the United States.' And what about your research papers? You'd be an expert on the Hunter region.

What's the definition of an expert? (I'd better not tell you what I think!) Being brought up in this area, I've always been very keen on looking at the rocks, particularly the andesitic ones – the word 'andesite' indicates that they are very similar to the rocks in the Andes. I've always been interested in the mineralogy of these rocks, the relationship of each rock in the suite to the other, and so on.

I don't believe in using PhD students' research, as many supervisors do, by just putting my name on a paper they write. If I had made a marked contribution, that would be a different matter, or if they asked me, that's right. And if a student had been out in the field with me and helped collect rocks, for example, I would usually ask that student, 'Would you like to write the paper with me?' So some of the co-authored papers are the result of my philosophy of allowing the students to be introduced to publication early in the piece. I think it works pretty well.

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Travel tales

What can you say about your travels for research purposes?

I did a sabbatical in Cambridge in about 1962. Another sabbatical in 1970 allowed me to go to the International Mineralogical Society in Japan, and en route I went to an ANZAAS meeting in New Guinea where I'd been invited to give papers. I'll never forget those times. Why? Because of silly little things.

I'd been asked to chair an ANZAAS section, so it was decided that they would let somebody with the expertise of the area go on an excursion with me. Well, I hired the vehicle, but going down the Kokoda Trail the brakes failed! Imagine how many cars would have been needed for an ANZAAS conference being held in New Guinea, though – they were using all sorts including unserviced trade-ins from second-hand car yards.

Then, in Japan, I had my son with me, a strapping youth of about 16 and six feet tall. Imagine him trying to fit in the coaches! And he'd say, 'You know, Mum, to be in charge of an excursion here, all you need to do is to be able to blow a whistle and count.' So, silly little things that you'll never forget, on some of these excursions.

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Public recognition

You've had a great deal of public recognition.

I guess so. In 1972, before the Order of Australia came into being, I was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In 1975, International Women's Year, the New South Wales branch of the United Nations Association presented me with their Woman of the Year award. Then, 51 years after the Rotary Foundation Fellowship, I was awarded the 1999/2000 Scholar Alumni Service Award. (One of the conditions of the award was that I had to go to Buenos Aires to collect it, so it wasn't difficult to make a decision!) I'm very proud indeed of the beautiful wording on the citation:

The Rotary Foundation Scholar Alumni Service Award, presented to Professor Beryl Nashar in tribute to your exceptional leadership in encouraging women in Australia to achieve the highest level of education and pursue economic self-sufficiency, for your extraordinary academic career and for your unflagging devotion to helping those in need.

And at the end of last year I got a Commonwealth Recognition Award for Senior Australians. So I've had my share.

Wasn't your portrait painted in the late '70s by Phil Stone, and selected for hanging in the Archibald exhibition?

It was. That was when I was the Dean of the Faculty of Science. Some people must have thought more of Phil's portrait of me than I did, because it was selected for hanging. At that time a lot of work was being done to the National Gallery, and the portrait ended up being hung in the Daily Telegraph Building, I think, and then one of the banks in Sydney. So Nashar got a lot of exposure.

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Peer recognition

I think you have been very pleased by the recognition you have received from your peers. Can you say something about that?

It was wonderful that the Geological Society of Australia made me an honorary member. It was really very nice of them. When I retired, the university conferred upon me the title of Emeritus Professor. And then in 1988 I was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree. That was conferred by the Chancellor, but strangely enough, it was the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Commerce who introduced me. When I asked the Vice-Chancellor later why it hadn't been given in the Faculty of Science, he said, 'We could have given you that in any one of five faculties.'

Beryl, it doesn't surprise me at all that you've been honoured in the way you have. Not only did you become a scientist in an era when very few women did so, but you reached the very top of your profession. The citation of your honorary degree refers, among other things, to your 'outstanding academic record which few Australians have equalled'. Thank you very much indeed for participating in this interview.

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