Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Dennis (1960)

Congratulations to MLC School Old Girl, Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Dennis (1960), who received a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC) in the 2019 Australia Day Honours List.

Dr Elizabeth Salisbury (Liz) Dennis (AC) was awarded ‘For eminent service to science as a researcher and academic in the area of genomics and plant development, and to professional organisations.

While at MLC School, Liz Dennis was an outstanding all-rounder. In 1960, Liz graduated from MLC School as Dux of the College, Sports Captain for Churunga, Senior Swimming and Diving Champion, and was in one of the MLC School Tildesley Tennis teams who won the Tildesley Shield.

In an interview with Professor Frank Gibson (2000), he asked, ‘Do you think something in your family background, or perhaps your schooling, Liz, led you to choose to study science?’

Liz’s response was:

‘I was the eldest of three girls and my parents were very supportive of any academic aspirations I had. I think my father would have liked me to be an engineer, like him and his father before him, but I always had the expectation of going to university and then following a career. I went to Methodist Ladies College, a girls’ private school which was very good, and unusually supportive of women. Its philosophy was that you shouldn’t not do anything because you’re a woman, and so it provided courses for us like physics honours and chemistry honours, which were unusual then. As a young girl I was always keen on chemistry. Reading stories of Madame Curie, I decided I wanted to be like her. I think she was the only heroic figure I had in my early childhood. Then at MLC we had a very good chemistry teacher – she had a PhD in chemistry, and was outstanding in those days – who gave us a real interest in chemistry.’  

After leaving MLC School, Liz studied a Bachelor of Science at University of Sydney and graduated with BSc (Hons 1st Class), and was also awarded a University ‘Blue’ for Softball. Liz then went on to complete a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the laboratory of Dr Julius Marmur at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, USA – supported by the Anna Fuller Fund.

In 2000, Liz was a joint recipient (alongside her CSIRO colleague, Dr Jim Peacock) of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

Since 2014, Liz has been at the University of Technology as Distinguished Professor, School of Life Sciences. From 1991-2014, she was Chief Research Scientist, Division of Plant History at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Please read more about the many honours and awards Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Salisbury Dennis AC has achieved throughout the years at https://csiropedia.csiro.au/dennis-elizabeth-salisbury/