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Biographical entry Southcott, Ronald Vernon (1918 - 1998)

15 May 1918
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
9 April 1998
Acarologist, Naturalist and Physician


Ronald Southcott was a physician, toxinologist and naturalist of astounding breadth. He was internationally renowned for his acarological studies. Between 1949 and 1978 he was medical epidemiologist and senior medical administrator with the Commonwealth Department of Veterans' Affairs, and for over 30years consultant in toxinology to the Adelaide Children's' Hospital and the Poisons Information Centre of South Australia. His medical research led to his identifying cases of leucoencephalitis, chickenpox pneumonia and post-chloramphenicol aplastic anaemia for the first time in Australia, and to hypervitaminosis A as the cause of illness and death of Antarctic expeditioners. As a naturalist Southcott described and named Australia's most venomous creature, the box jellyfish, made extensive contributions to the taxonomy of mites especially the subfamily Erythraeoidea, and undertook the first definitive study of the toxinology, taxonomy and biology of Australian scorpions. He played a vital role in the South Australian Museum, being appointed Honorary Associate in Zoology in 1953, and serving as a Member and later Chairman the Board 1968 - 1982. Southcott published over 230 books and scientific papers encompassed entomology, acarology, toxic fungi, fishes and zoonotic diseases.



Education - MB BS, University of Adelaide
1942 - 1946
Career position - Captain, Australian Army Medical Corps
1953 -
Career position - Honorary Associate in Zoology, South Australia Museum
Career position - President, Royal Society of South Australia
Education - MD, University of Adelaide
1959 - 1978
Career position - Deputy Director Medical Services, Repatriation Department South Australia
1961 -
Career position - Honorary Associate in Acarology, South Australia Museum
Career position - President, Royal Society of South Australia
Award - DSc, University of Adelaide
Award - Sir Joseph Verco Medal, Royal Society of South Australia
1968 - 1974
Career position - Member of Board, South Australian Museum
1974 - 1982
Career position - Chairman Museum Board of South Australia

Related Awards

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana

  • Ronald Vernon Southcott - Records, 1947 - 1948, PRG 233; State Library of South Australia, Mortlock Library of South Australiana. Details

Published resources


  • Francis, D. F. and Southcott, R. V., Plants harmful to man in Australia (Adelaide: Board of Governors Botanic Garden Adelaide, 1967), 53 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Halliday, R. B., '250 years of Australian acarology' in Acarology: proceedings of the 10th International Congress, Halliday, R. B. et al, ed. (Collingwood, Vic.: CSIRO Publishing, 2001), pp. 3-16. Details
  • Southcott, R. V., 'Cleland, Sir John Burton (1878-1971), Pathologist and Naturalist' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Bede Nairn and Geoffrey Serle, eds, vol. 8 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1981), pp. 23-25. Details
  • Southcott, R. V., 'Australia' in History of Acarology, Prasad, V., ed. (Oak Park, Michgan: Indira Publishing, 1982), pp. 1-51. Details
  • Southcott, R. V., 'Medical Science' in Ideas and Endeavours - The Natural Sciences in South Australia, C. R. Twidale; M. J. Tyler and M. Davies, eds (Adelaide: Royal Society of South Australia, 1986). Details
  • Southcott, R. V., 'Verco, Sir Joseph Cooke (1851-1933), Physician and Conchologist' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, John Ritchie, ed., vol. 12 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1990), pp. 318-319. Details

Journal Articles

  • Halliday, R. B. and Pearn, J. H., 'Ronald Vernon Southcott, Acarologist, physicisn, naturalist', International Journal of Acarology, 25 (1999), 151-3. Details
  • Pearn, J. and Russell, F., 'The life and contributions of Dr [Ronald] Vernon Southcott, May 15, 1918 - April 9, 1998', Toxicon, 37 (6) (1999), 837-40. Details
  • Pearn, John, 'The Medical Zoologist - Ronald Vernon Southcott', Toxicon, 48 (7) (2006), 755-761 . Details
  • Pearn, John H., 'An Australian soldier-naturalist: the civilian and military contributions of Captain Ronald Vernon Southcott AAMC (1918-1998)', ADF Health, 5 (2) (2004), 94-5. Details
  • Southcott, R. V., 'Herbert Womersley (1889 - 1962)', Acarologia, 5 (3) (1963), 323-4. Details
  • Southcott, R. V., 'Obituary: Herbert Womersley, A.L.S. (Hon. Causa), F. R. E.S. 1889 - 1952', Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 87 (1963), 249-52. Details
  • Southcott, R. V., 'Herbert Womersley, ALS (Honoris Causa), FRS, 10.4.1889- 14.10.1962, Obituary Notice', Records of the South Australian Museum, 14 (4) (1964), 603-632. Details
  • Southcott, R. V., 'Obituary: John Burton Cleland, Kt, CBE, MD, ChM, FRACP', Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, 95 (4) (1971), 242-247. Details
  • Southcott, R. V., 'John Burton Cleland', Medical Journal of Australia, 1972 (1) (1972), 192-3. Details


McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn