Chemistry consolidates and grows...T.G.H. Jones in 1927
  • In the years leading up to World War II (1939-1945), a steady increase in the numbers of students meant that the Chemistry Department outgrew the wooden buildings created for it in UQ's first decade.  Work, begun in 1938, was underway at St Lucia, but WWII was to delay any move by the chemistry department.
  • Thomas Henry Gilbert Jones became Head of the Department of Chemistry in 1940.  At that time, there was a staff of ten.  Jones felt that the war might slow down the progress of chemistry innovation, but not so much as it would affect other fields. However, the war years allowed no growth in staff and student numbers.
  • At that time, the introductory, year-long course Chemistry I was compulsory for all UQ's science students, including those from the then Faculties of Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science & Agriculture, and Engineering.
  • Chemistry I was up of three lectures and three hours of practical work per week. The workload increased year by year; third year students studying only chemistry would take Chemistry III and Chemistry III Adanced, which meant that they would take approximately four lectures and 24 hours of practical classes per week.
  • The clearest expression that the war was over was seen in the rapid increase in student numbers as men and women returning from military service enrolled under Commonwealth Government training programs; in 1944 UQ had 1,789 students and in 1948 there were 4,343 students.
  • In May 1949, the Steele Building was opened at St Lucia and became home to the Department of Chemistry.  It was the first department housed in its own building 0n the new site.
  • Between 1948 and 1952, the department publised 41 research papers, mostly on physical chemistry.

Image: T.G.H. Jones in 1927 (Fryer Library, University of Queensland Library, UQFL466, AL/P/66)

Microbiology begins at UQ and expands...
  • In 1938, 30 hours of lectures and practical classes in Microbiology were offered to Medicine and Dentistry students by part-time specialist lecturer, Dr Noel Gutteridge.
  • Dr Gutteridge was called to full-time army duty in 1941 and replaced by Dr David Gray. A number of demonstrators, including Dr Vic Skerman, later to become foundation professor of Microbiology, were appointed around this time.
  • A degree program in Applied Science (Medical Science) commenced in 1946.  It incorporated third and fourth-year courses in clinical bacteriology (later renamed microbiology).
  • In the five years following the end of WWII, the teaching and research of microbiology were hampered by the difficulty in finding appropriate staff.
  • In 1950, Skerman, then a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, accepted a post as Chief Lecturer, along with K.J.C. Back as lecturer (later to become Vice-Chancellor of James Cook Univeristy of North Queensland) and W. J. Halliday as assistant lecturer (later Professor of Immunology at UQ).
  • During the 1950s and 1960s, there was a constant battle for space at the Herston campus to cope with expanding student numbers and research developments.  Staff numbers expanded, with selection aimed at providing a broad range of expertise to meet the needs of science and the State. 
The evolution of Biochemistry at UQ
  • Biochemistry moved from the Faculty of Agriculture and was operating as a division of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.


Sources: A Place of Light and Learning:  The University of Queensland's First Seventy-Five Years, by Malcolm I Thomis, 1985.
  History of the Department of Microbiology, by V.B.D. Skerman, published in a departmental booklet to commemorate the 75th anniversary of UQ, 1985.
  Editions of the UQ Staff News, 1960-1965.


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