Sir Ian Clunies Ross was an esteemed scientist. He was born on in Bathurst, New South Wales, on 22 February 1899. When he was four his family moved to Sydney, where he showed a particular interest in local fauna. In 1917 he enrolled in agriculture at the University of Sydney, changing to vetinary science in 1918. A moderate scholar, he graduated in 1921 with second class honours. The following year he was appointed Walter and Eliza Hall Veterinary Research Fellow. A trip to England allowed him to study parasites at the Molteno Institute, Cambridge, and at the London School of Tropical Medicine. It was a crucial phase in his life, and for the next 15 years he built a national reputation for his work as an applied scientist and one of Australia's best scienfic communicators.
Clunies Ross returned to Australia in 1923 and in 1925 tried unsuccessfully to start a vetinary practice. He resumed research instead, becoming a lecturer in veterinary parasitology in the Veterinary Faculty at the University of Sydney. In 1926 he was appointed parasitologist for the new Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and in 1927 he married Janet Leslie Carter. Three years later he became officer-in-charge of the new F.D. McMaster Animal Health Laboratory. He subsequently held a variety of senior scientific roles including Australian Member, International Wool Secretariat, London 1937-40, Professor of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney 1940-46, Advisor on the Pastoral Industry, Department of War Organization of Industry 1942-45, director of Scientific Manpower 1942-45, Executive Officer, CSIR 1946-49, Chairman, CSIRO 1949-60. President, Australian Veterinary Association 1935-36. Gold Medal, Royal Agricultural Society of England, James Cook Medal, Royal Society of New South Wales and Foundation Fellow, Australian Academy of Science 1954.
Clunies Ross died from heart disease at the age of 60 on 20 June 1959, leaving his wife, three sons and an adopted daughter.
The Clunies Ross Award was established in memory of Clunies Ross. First awarded in 1991, the Clunies Ross medal is awarded by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering to exceptional people who have shown outstanding personal commitment over an extended period of time to successful innovation in applying science and technology for the benefit of Australia. Award recipients are presented with a 10-ounce silver medal with the head of Sir Ian Clunies Ross on one side and his favourite bird, the brolga, on the reverse. The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Clunies Ross Foundation was established to honour the names of Clunies Ross and continue his work. The Foundation's mission is 'to advance science, its communication and application to best benefit a developing Australia and the challenges of our global environment'.
Australian Dictionary of Biography website http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/clunies-ross-sir-william-ian-9770.
ATSE Clunies Ross Award website http://www.cluniesross.org.au/Award.htm, accessed 11 Nov 2003.