Students at the University of Sydney

Students in the early years

This webpage provides brief information about the beginnings / establishment of the Faculty of Science, and photos of its early students and graduates.

View more information and photos about early women Science students.

On this webpage:


Click on images for enlargement.


FACULTY OF SCIENCE 1882

Milestones

1852:  Teaching of Science in the University began in the Faculty of Arts, when the first 3 professors arrived. Professor John Smith taught Experimental Philosophy along with Chemistry and Professor Morris Pell taught Mathematics. Find out about the first 24 students.
1882: The Faculty of Science was established, with Professor of Chemistry Archibald Liversidge  as its first Dean. It offered the Bachelor of Science and the Doctor of Science.
  In Year I, undergraduates were required to attend and pass the first year courses in the Faculty of Arts; Year II - Chemistry, Physics, Natural History, Mathematics, French and German; Year III - Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Minerology, Geology and Palaeontology, and Zoology and Botany.
  However, at first the Faculty was slow to attract more than a very small number of students.
1883: Frank Leverrier and Ebenezer Wood were the first candidates enrolled in Science II.
1885: The first two Bachelor of Science graduates were Frank Leverrier, with first-class honours and the gold medal, and Ebenezer Wood.
1886: The first female candidate enrolled in Science II was Fanny Hunt.
1888: The first woman Bachelor of Science graduates was Fanny Hunt.
  A number of new ‘temporary’ purpose-built facilities for professional subjects began to be built out of sight of the main building: Physics, Chemistry, Macleay Museum, Geology, Biology and Botany.  The buildings constructed in this period formed the genesis of what was to become Science Road, lined with science facilities.
1890: A revised Science curriculum extending over three years was introduced.
1908: Harald Jensen was the first to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Science.
1920: Agricultural Science, Architecture, Engineering and Veterinary Science, which had all been departments of the Faculty of Science, became separate faculties in their own right.
1924: Marjorie Collins (later Shiels) was the first Master of Science graduate.
1925: A new Physics Building was completed - it was the first major extension of the University buildings beyond the Quadrangle and Science Road.
1932: There were 353 undergraduates, with 6 professors in physics, chemistry, zoology, geology and physical geography, botany and mathematics (pure and applied).
1937: John Cornforth graduated BSc with first-class honours and the University medal. In 1975 he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Vladimir Prelog.
1951: Eleanora Gyarfas and George Humphrey were two of the first three to gain the Doctor of Philosophy in the University - the other was in Engineering.
1959: A large new Chemistry School in modern architectural style was opened on Eastern Avenue, followed by other science facilities.
2012: The Faculty had 3,637 women and 2,871 men student enrolments as at 31 March.
  The Faculty comprises the History and Philosophy of Science Unit and the Schools of Biological Sciences; Chemistry; Geosciences; Mathematics and Statistics; Molecular Bioscience; Physics; and Psychology.

Gallery

In the 1850s

Professor John Smith in his laboratory in the late 1850s

Professor John Smith was one
of the first 3 professors
at the University of Sydney in 1852.
He was Professor of Chemistry
and Experimental Physics
1852-1882 and Professor of
Experimental Physics 1882-1885.
This photo shows him in his
laboratory in the late 1850s,
photo 809_060,
University of Sydney Archives. 

Professor Morris Pell in 1860

Professor Morris Pell was
another  of the first 3 professors
at the University (Professor of
Mathematics 1852-1877),
photo G3_224_1398
taken in 1860,

University of Sydney Archives. 


Henry Chamberlain Russell

Henry Chamberlain Russell came 2nd in Classics, 1st in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy and 1st in Chemistry and Experimental Physics in his Bachelor of Arts exams in 1858, and graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1859. Russell became an astronomer and meteorologist, and was one of the most eminent men of science in Australia in the nineteenth century, photo, courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum Collection on flickr.

In the 1870s
Professor Archibald Liversidge

Professor Archibald Liversidge was appointed Professor of Chemistry and Minerology in 1872, and became the first Dean of the Faculty of Science in 1882, photo G3_224_1927, University of Sydney Archives.

In the 1880s

Frank Leverrier 

One of the first two Bachelor of
Science graduates in 1885,
Frank Leverrier was awarded
first-class honours and
the gold medal, photo,
'The Sydney Morning Herald',
 4 November 1914.

Fanny Elizabeth Hunt

Fanny Hunt was the first woman
to graduate with a Bachelor of
Science degree from the
University of Sydney, in 1888, 
photo G3_224_1421, taken in 1888,
University of Sydney Archives.


Professor Richard Threlfall

Professor Richard Threlfall became Professor of Physics in 1886, photo G3_224_0382, University of Sydney Archives.

The Physics department in its new building in Science Road

The Physics department in its new building (now the Badham Building) in Science Road, completed in 1888. The building had been built to specifications drawn up by the newly appointed Professor of Physics, Richard Threlfall, 1890 photo 842_09, University of Sydney Archives.

A Chemistry class in 1888

A Chemistry class in 1888, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

In the 1890s
The Chemistry department in its new building in Science Road, completed in 1890

The new building for the Chemistry department (now Pharmacy) in Science Road, was designed largely by Professor Liversidge and completed in 1890.

T W Edgeworth David was Professor of Geology and Physical Geography (1893-1924)

Tannett Edgeworth David was Professor of Geology and Physical Geography (1893-1924), photo G3_224_1211, University of Sydney Archives.

A Chemistry practical class in the new Chemistry building in 1893

A Chemistry practical class in the new Chemistry building in 1893, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

The School of Mines Building in 1901

The School of Mines Building, which included the Department of Geology and opened in 1895, photo, Australian Town and Country Journal, 26 October 1901, National Library of Australia. Today the building is named the Edgeworth David Building.

In the Biology laboratory in 1895

Professor James Wilson, J P Hill and C J Martin in the Biology laboratory in 1895, photo G3_224_0858, University of Sydney Archives.

A Chemistry class in 1896

A Chemistry class in 1896, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

The Science Congress held at the University in January 1898

The Congress of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Science held at the University in January 1898, photo, Australian Town and Country Journal, 15 January 1898, National Library of Australia.

In the early 1900s
Geology students on an excursion to Narrabeen 1900s

Geology students on an excursion to Narrabeen in the 1900s, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

The new Biology Building opened in 1902

The new Biology Building (renamed Zoology in 1914 and now the Heydon-Laurence Building) was opened in 1902 at the western end of Science Road, photo G3_224_MF374_0242, University of Sydney Archives.

The Zoology classrooms at the rear of the Biology Building

The Zoology classrooms at the rear of the Biology Building, photo G3_224_MF374_0246, University of Sydney Archives.

Chemistry class in 1903

A Chemistry class in 1903, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

 Douglas Mawson

Douglas Mawson studied Mining
Engineering, was a junior demonstrator
in Chemistry and graduated BE in 1902,
then returned to further studies
in Geology in 1904, graduating
Bachelor of Science in 1905,
photo, Chronicle, 29 August 1914,
National Library of Australia.

 

 

 

Harald Jensen

Harald Jensen was the first to be
awarded the degree of
Doctor of Science, in 1908,
photo taken in 1910,
John Oxley Library,
State Library of Queensland,
image 196486
.


Chemistry class in 1909

A Chemistry class in 1909, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

A Geology excursion to Mt Kosciusko in 1914

A Geology excursion to Mt Kosciusko in 1914, with Tannatt William Edgworth David, Professor of Geology, on the right, photo G3_224_1284_1, University of Sydney Archives.

In the 1920s
Professor Edgeworth David and Mr Lionel L Waterhouse

Professor Edgworth David and Mr Lionel Waterhouse, Lecturer in Geology and Physical Geology, on excursion in the early 1920s, photo from the 'School of Geosciences Annual Report 2009', University of Sydney.

Geology students at Wollongong in 1922

Geology students, with Professor Edgworth David front left, at Wollongong in 1922, photo G3_224_2144_1 by Roslyn Toovey, University of Sydney Archives.

Science III students in 1923

Science III students in 1923, photo G3_224_1484, University of Sydney Archives.

Alteration of the Biology Building

The Biology Building underwent extensive alterations and was completed in 1923 for the Department of Zoology, photo G3_224_MF374_0245, University of Sydney Archives. Its name became the Zoology Building and in 2005 was renamed the Heydon-Laurence Building.

Marjorie Collins (later Shiels)

Marjorie Collins (later Shiels), the first Master of Science graduate, in 1924, photo G3_224_1415 taken in 1930, University of Sydney Archives.

The newly completed Physics Building in 1925

The newly completed Physics Building in 1925, G3_224_1571, University of Sydney Archives. The building was designed by Professor Leslie Wilkinson in collaboration with architect, Keith Harris, in the distinctive Mediterranean style.

Construction of the Botany School in 1925

The Department of Botany had been given temporary accommodation in the Macleay Museum in 1915. Ten years later, a new sandstone building known as the Botany Building was added to east end of Macleay Museum. This photo shows the construction of the Botany Building (now Macleay Building), photo G3_224_MF374_0018, University of Sydney Archives.

Science Road Chemistry Building (now Pharmacy) and students outside

Chemistry staff and students in 1927 outside the Chemistry Building (now Pharmacy) in Science Road, photo P183_1_0270 by Harold Cazneaux, University of Sydney Archives.

Chemistry Department Laboratory 1927

Chemistry Department
Laboratory 1927
Harold Cazneaux photo P183_1_0072
University of Sydney Archives

Chemistry Department Laboratory 1927

Chemistry Department
Laboratory 1927
Harold Cazneaux photo P183_1_0074
University of Sydney Archives

Chemistry Department class 1927 

Chemistry Department class 1927
Harold Cazneaux photo P183_1_0069
University of Sydney Archives

Inorganic Chemistry Department demonstration 1927

Inorganic Chemistry Department
demonstration 1927 
Harold Cazneaux photo P183_1_0071
University of Sydney Archives

 Chemistry Department Research Laboratory 1927

 Chemistry Department
Research Laboratory 1927
Harold Cazneaux photo P183_1_0070
University of Sydney Archives

Chemistry Department Laboratory 1927 

Chemistry Department
Laboratory 1927
Harold Cazneaux photo P183_1_0073
University of Sydney Archives
P183_1_0073


The Physics Building in 1927

The Physics Building in 1927, Harold Cazneaux photo P183_1_0009, University of Sydney Archives.

Physics Department research in 1927

Physics Department research in 1927, Harold Cazneaux photo P183_1_0068, University of Sydney Archives.

Organic chemistry staff and research students in 1929

Organic chemistry staff and research students in 1929: Dr Victor Trikojus (lecturer, seated left), Professor John Earl (centre) and Francis Lions (demonstrator) (right), photo, University of Sydney Archives.

In the 1930s
Bachelor of Science graduates in 1931

Bachelor of Science graduates in 1931, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

Science students on a visit to the Port Kembla Steelworks in 1935

Science students on a visit to the Port Kembla Steelworks in 1935. In front are Bob Franki and Frank Boileau; in the second row are Arthur Birch, Arnie Rosenfeldt and Ern Ritchie; standing at the back is Ken Sewell, photo provided by A C Clarke, from The Gazette, February 1977.

In the 1940s
A school in radio physics was estabished  in 1941 to train specialists for the armed services

A school in radio physics was estabished at the University in 1941 to train specialists for the armed services. The school was open only to personnel from the forces who had passed at least the first year of a physics course at a university. The photo is of Number 3 Radio Physics Training School taken in 1943, photo G3_224_1799, University of Sydney Archives.

The Tramsheds, constructed in 1945 to provide prac facilities for first year Chemistry students

A large fibro-cement building opposite Manning, which came to be known as the Tramsheds, was constructed in 1945 to provide prac facilities for first year Chemistry students. The Tramsheds served Chemistry until the undergraduate labs in the new Chemistry building opened in 1958, photo from ChemNEWS, Issue 16, 2010.

In the 1950s
The new Chemistry building under construction in 1956

The new Chemistry building under construction in 1956, photo G3_224_0088, University of Sydney Archives.

In the 1960s
1961

Kay Elfick, a pilot and 3rd year Science student at the University, attending an AWPA Air Reliability Trial held in Broken Hill in 1961, photo, The Australian Women's Weekly, 26 April 1961, National Library of Australia.

1963

Professor Harry Messel, Professor of Physics and Head of the School of Physics 1952-1987, ran the University's Summer Science School. He is pictured here (far right) with students at the 1963 School, photo, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, Call number: Australian Photographic Agency - 13644.

1964

Professor Charles McCusker, Professor of High Energy Nuclear Physics 1961 - 1985, answered viewers' science questions on Channel 7's "University Tutorial". He is pictured here in 1964 with his TV team, photo, The Australian Women's Weekly, 14 October 1964, National Library of Australia.

1964

Professor Julius Sumner Miller, visiting lecturer for the Physics Department 1963 - 1986, ran a science show "Why is it so?" on television in the 1960s. He is pictured in his laboratory at the School of Physics at the University for TV Times in 1964, photo, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, Call number: Australian Photographic Agency - 16981.

In the 1970s
Science laboratory Orientation Day 1973

A Science laboratory - Orientation Day 1973, photo G77_1_2192, University of Sydney Archives.

In the 1980s
Four First Class Honours Science graduates in 1987

Four First Class Honours Science graduates in 1987: Scott Stark, Robert Brink, Bill Tulip and Gregory Pierens, photo G77_2_0499, University of Sydney Archives.

Physics III students 1987

Physics III students fitting a secondary reflector to the Molonglo Radio Telescope as part of a research project, photo by Dr Michael Large, The University of Sydney Annual Report 1987.

A Science stall, Open Day 1988

A Science stall - Open Day 1988, photo G77_1_2181, University of Sydney Archives.

A Science demonstration, Open Day 1988

A Science demonstration - Open Day 1988, photo G77_1_2186, University of Sydney Archives.

In the Chemistry lab, 1989

In the Chemistry lab in 1989, photo, The University of Sydney Annual Report 1989.

In the 1990s
1990

Second year Genetics, Cellular and Development Biology class in 1990, photo, The University of Sydney Annual Report 1990.

At a Biological Sciences weekend trip at Warrah in 1991

At a Biological Sciences weekend trip at Warrah in 1991, photo from Sonia Wansorough, Biology News, July 2012.

Today
The Physics Building

The Physics Building, photo, courtesy of sydneyarchitecture.

The Chemistry Building

The Chemistry Building, photo, courtesy of sydneyarchitecture.

The Molecular Bioscience Building

The Molecular Bioscience Building, photo, 2010 Annual Report.

2012 Physics prize and scholarship recipients

2012 Physics prize and scholarship recipients, photo from PHYSICS News, Winter 2012.

Information sources

  • 'A History of the University of Sydney, Vol 1, 1850 - 1939', by Clifford Turney, Ursula Bygott and Peter Chippendale
  • National Library of Australia historic newspapers
  • University of Sydney Calendar Archive
  • The University of Sydney Overview History: The Physical Development of Buildings and Grounds, by Rosemary Kerr
  • The early years for Chemistry alumni, by Dr Jim Eckert


Lis Bergmann, 2012