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Biographical entry Birch, Arthur John (1915 - 1995)

CMG, AC, FAA, FRS

Born
3 August 1915
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died
8 December 1995
Occupation
Organic chemist

Summary

Arthur Birch was Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Australian National University (ANU) from 1967. The main building of the Research School of Chemistry at ANU was named the Birch Building in his honour in1995. Prior to working at ANU Birch was at Oxford (1938-1948), Cambridge (1948-1952), the University of Sydney (1952-1955), and Manchester University (1955-1967). He received many honours including the H.G. Smith Medal, A.E. Leighton Memorial Award and Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, the ANZAAS Medal and was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) and a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG). His outstanding research contributions include the his studies of synthetic applications of diene iron tricarbonyl complexes, the Birch reduction of aromatic compounds by sodium and ethanol in liquid ammonia, his polyketide theory of the biosynthesis of natural products. The A. J. Birch Medal has been awarded by the Organic Chemistry Division of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute since 1992.

Details

Events

1937
Education - Bachelor of Science (BSc) completed at the University of Sydney
1938
Education - Master of Science (MSc) completed at the University of Sydney
1938 - 1948
Career position - 1851 Exhibition Scholar and ICI Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK
1940
Education - Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) completed at the University of Oxford
1948 - 1952
Career position - Smithson Fellow of the Royal Society at the University of Cambridge, UK
1952 - 1955
Career position - Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Sydney
1954
Award - H. G. Smith Memorial Medal, Royal Australian Chemical Institute
1954 - 1995
Award - Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA)
1955 - 1967
Career position - Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Manchester, UK
1958 - 1995
Award - Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS)
1960
Award - Fritsche (Gunther) Award for Terpene Chemistry, American Chemical Society
1960 - 1995
Award - Fellow, Royal Institute of Chemistry (Chartered Chemist)
1967 - 1970
Career position - Dean of the Research School of Chemistry at the Australian National University
1967 - 1980
Career position - Foundation Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Australian National University in Canberra
1968 - 1995
Award - Fellow, Royal Australian Chemical Institute
1972
Award - Davy Medal, Royal Society, London
1972
Award - Flintoff Medal, Chemical Society, United Kingdom
1972
Award - Matthew Flinders Medal and Lecture, Australian Academy of Science
1972
Award - Purkyne Award for Contributions to Biochemistry, Czechoslovak Medical Society
1973 - 1976
Career position - Dean of the Research School of Chemistry
1974
Award - Archibald Liversidge Medal, Royal Society of New South Wales
1977
Award - DSc honoris causa, University of Sydney
1977
Career position - Chair of the Independent Inquiry into CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation)
1977 - 1978
Career position - President of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute
1979
Award - Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG)
1979
Career position - Founding Chair of the Australian Marine Sciences and Technologies Advisory Committee
1980
Award - Leighton Memorial Medal, Royal Australian Chemical Institute
1980 - 1995
Award - Honorary Fellow, Royal Society of Chemistry, United Kingdom
1982
Award - DSc honoris causa, University of Manchester
1982
Award - DSc honoris causa, Monash University
1982
Award - Natural Products Award, Royal Society of Chemistry, United Kingdom
1982 - 1986
Career position - President of the Australian Academy of Science
1986 - 1995
Award - Honorary Fellow, Royal Society of New South Wales
1987
Award - Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in recognition of service to science, particularly in the field of organic chemistry
1989 - 1995
Award - Foreign Fellow, Indian National Academy of Science
1990
Award - ANZAAS Medal, Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science
1994 - 1995
Award - Honorary Fellow, Royal Australian Chemical Institute
1995
Award - Naming of the main building of the Research School of Chemistry as Birch Building

Related Awards

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Arthur John Birch - Records, 1961 - 1996, MS 121; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions

Books

  • Birch, Arthur, To See the Obvious (Washington, D.C.: American Chemical Society, 1995), 297 pp. Details

Edited Books

  • Birch, A. J., and Kaye, M. J. eds, Australia 75: the other arts: science, invention, technology (Canberra: Australia '75 Science Committee, 1975), 59 pp. Details

Journal Articles

  • Birch, A. J., 'Sir Robert Robinson: a Contemporary historical assessment and a personal memoir', Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, 109 (3/4) (1976), 151-160. Details
  • Birch, Arthur J., 'Investigating a Scientific Legend: the Tropinone Synthesis of Sir Robert Robinson, FRS', Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 47 (1993), 277-296. Details
  • Rae, Ian D., 'Appointing a Professor: Reflections on Filling the Chair of Organic Chemistry at the University of Sydney in 1948', Historical Records of Australian Science, 18 (1) (2007), 19-42. Details
  • Rae, Ian D., 'The Roche Research Institute of Marine Pharmacology, 1974-1981: Searching for Drug Leads', Historical Records of Australian Science, 20 (2) (2009), 209-231 . Details
  • Rickards, Rodney W. and Cornforth, John, Sir, 'Arthur John Birch 1915-1995', Historical Records of Australian Science, 18 (2) (2007), 243-280. Details
  • Walker, Rosanne, 'Arthur Birch: the Grandfather of the Contraceptive Pill', Australasian Science, 20 (6) (1999), 46. Details

Resources

Resource Sections

See also

McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn