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Sir Ian Clunies-Ross


Sir Ian Clunies-Ross is regarded as one of the leaders of the scientific revolution brought about in Australia. Sir Ian Clunies-Ross ably handled the CSIRO which was a premier institution dealing with scientific experiments. Sir Ian Clunies-Ross had a tremendous scientific passion and administrative talent which he used in administrating many scientific organizations.

Sir Ian Clunies-Ross was born on 22 February, 1899 in Bathurst, New South Wales. He was the fourth and youngest son of William John Clunies Ross, who was a teacher and Ianís mother was Hannah Elizabeth. Ross shared a close relationship with his mother who taught him in his early age and imbibed him with moral values. He passed out from Newington College with second-class Honors in English. After his fatherís death, Ianís elder brothers enrolled themselves in the army and were killed. In 1917, Sir Ian Clunies-Ross enrolled at the University of Sydney with Agricultural Science but then switched to Veterinary Science in 1918.

After passing out, Sir Ian Clunies-Ross worked as a temporary lecturer at the University of Sydney and in 1922 was selected as a research fellow. He studied about parasites at the Molteno Institute in England and at the London School of Tropical Medicine. For the next 15 years, Ross completely engaged himself in the study of parasitology. In 1923 he returned to Australia and tried to start a veterinary chamber in 1925 at Sydney. After this stint, he resumed with his studies at the University and in 1926, Sir Ian was appointed as the parasitologist in the new Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. As a scientist, Sir Ian Clunies-Ross showed remarkable excellence in showing the interconnections between disparate phenomena. His early work mainly dealt in the relationship between host and parasite. However, Ross extended his interests towards the relation between applied science and pastoral industry, society and science and Australiaís contribution in international affairs.

The early research of Sir Ian Clunies-Ross was focused on two severe health problems, the liver fluke and the hydatid parasite. He set up various field-stations to think of ways to control parasites and to find out the reason for the disease. He also developed a more suitable way of immunizing the dogs as the dog ticks disease was common in the bush areas of Sydney. Sir Ian Clunies-Ross played a major role in enhancing the reputation of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the university awarded him with a Doctor of Veterinary Science degree in 1928 for his work on hyatids. As a research scientist, Ross published more than fifty scientific articles. He was also an active member of the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

Sir Ian Clunies-Ross gained tremendous popularity as wool industry publicist and represented Australia in the International Wool Publicity and Research Secretariat. In 1939, Ross was elected as the professor of Veterinary Science by the University of Sydney but he stayed back in London until July 1940 to complete his role at the secretariat. In 1941 he was elected as the president of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and became a chief scientific advisor of the Austrlain government. In 1946, Ross was appointed as an all-time member of CSIRO executive body and supervised the agricultural and biological divisions. On 19 May 1949, Sir Ian replaced Sir David Rivett as the chairman of CSIRO.

Sir Ian Clunies-Ross was an excellent orator and always loved delivering public speeches. At the end of his scientific career, he received many awards and honors. He was appointed the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George and was knighted in the year 1954. He was the first chairman of International House and deputy-chancellor of the University of Melbourne.

On the personal front, Sir Ian Clunies-Ross was married to Janet Leslie Carter. The couple has three sons and an adopted daughter. Sir Ian Clunies-Ross died on 20 June 1959 after suffering from atherosclerotic heart disease in Melbourne.

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