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Biographical entry Wilsmore, Norman Thomas Mortimer (1868 - 1940)

FANRC

Born
23 January 1868
Williamstown, Victoria, Australia
Died
12 June 1940
Claremont, Western Australia, Australia
Occupation
Chemist

Summary

Norman Thomas M. Wilsmore was foundation Professor of Chemistry at the University of Western Australia from 1913 to 1937. His had strong research interests especially in the fields of electrode potentials and keten chemistry. Wilsmore spent many years working and studying overseas and gained a high-standing international reputation for his research.

Details

With a chemistry major, Norman Thomas Mortimer Wilsmore completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne in 1890. He remained at the University to pursue chemical research and graduated two years later with a Masters Degree. In 1894 Wilsmore moved to the UK to study with Professor Sir William Ramsay and Norman Collie at University College. After three years there he moved to Germany's University of Göttingen to study physical chemistry. He spent four years working in Germany where he also studied physics and electrical engineering. Many valuable and influential research articles arose from his work in England and Germany.

Norman Wilsmore's next move was to Switzerland to advance his knowledge of technical chemistry. He soon became first assistant to Professor Richard Lorenz in the Department of Physical and Electro-chemistry at the Federal Polytechnic. In 1903 Wilsmore returned to organic chemistry and to University College, London. He made his way from Assistant to Assistant Professor before leaving for Australia in 1912/1913. He was offered the Chair of Physical Chemistry at Liverpool University, but declined having already accepted the post of Chair of Chemistry at the newly formed University of Western Australia.

The first 22 years of his tenure at the University were hard going and he had little time for research: there was little infrastructure, many regulations and course outlines to be drafted and much financial hardship caused by the War (1914-1918) and the Depression (1931). The War also saw Wilsmore return to London to work with the Department of Explosives Supply (January 1917 to April 1919). It wasn't until 1935 that the first permanent chemistry buildings were functional. Norman Wilsmore was forced to retire as Chair in 1937 due to the University's age-limit policy, but privately continued his research. He was such a respected teacher and mentor that chemistry graduates raised money to fund what is now known as the annual Wilsmore Prize for the most meritorious chemistry graduate at the University.

An active member of the Western Australia State Committee of the Australian Chemical Institute, Wilsmore was twice elected President. He was also General President of the Chemistry Council and original Fellow and Vice President of the Australian National Research Council.

Events

1890
Education - Bachelor of Science (BSc) completed at the University of Melbourne
1893
Education - Master of Science (MSc) completed at the University of Melbourne
1894 - 1896
Career position - Researcher at the University College, London
1897 - 1901
Career position - Researcher at the Georg-August University of Göttingen in Germany
1901 - 1902
Career position - Professor's Assistant at Federal Polytechnic in Zurich, Switzerland
1903 - 1913
Career position - Assistant, later Assistant Professor at University College in London
1907
Education - Doctor of Science (DSc) received from the University of Melbourne
1913 - 1937
Career position - Foundation Professor of Chemistry at the University of Western Australia
1917 - 1919
Career position - Scientist at the Department of Explosives Supply, London
1924 - 1925
Career position - Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Australia
1933 -
Career position - Fellow of the Australian National Research Council
1933 - 1934
Career position - Vice-President of the Australian National Research Council
1937
Career position - President of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions

Book Sections

  • De Garis, B. K., 'Wilsmore, Norman Thomas Mortimer (1868-1940), Professor of Chemistry', in John Ritchie (ed.), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 12, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1990, pp. 517-518. Also available at http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A120580b.htm. Details

Journal Articles

  • Craig, A.W. and Wilsmore, N.T.M., 'Note on an Examination of Water from Lake Corangamite, Victoria', Report of the Fourth Meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, vol. 4, Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, Sydney, 1892, pp. 270-272. Details
  • Masson, David Orme and Wilsmore, N.T.M, 'Does Magnesium form Compounds with Hydrocarbon Radicles?', Proceedings of the Chemical Society, vol. 7, Gurney & Jackson., London, 1891. Details
  • Tattersall, G., 'Obituary: Norman Thomas Mortimer Wilsmore 1868-1940', Australian Journal of Science, vol. 3, no. 2, 1940, pp. 31-32. Details
  • Watson, E. M., 'Founders of Australian Chemistry. N.T.M. Wilsmore.', The Royal Australian Chemical Institute Proceedings, vol. 25, 1958, pp. 20-25. Details
  • Wilsmore, N. T. M., 'The Life and Work of Sir David Orme Masson', Australian Journal of Science, vol. 3, 1941, pp. 139-144. Details
  • Wilsmore, N.T.M., 'Unsuccessful Attempts to Prepare Magnesium Ethyl', Report of the Third Meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, vol. 3, Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, Sydney, 1891, pp. 108-115. Details
  • Wilsmore, N.T.M., 'Note on Magnesium Iodide', Report of the Third Meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, vol. 3, Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, Sydney, 1891, p. 116. Details
  • Wilsmore, N.T.M., 'Note on a "Natural Bone Ash" from Narracoorte, South Australia', Report of the Fourth Meeting of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, vol. 4, Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science, Sydney, 1892, pp. 275-277. Details
  • Wilsmore, N.T.M., 'The Present Position of Chemistry and Chemists', Australasian Association for Advancement of Science, vol. xv, 1921, pp. 19-42. Details

Online Resources

Annette Alafaci