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Biographical entry McCusker, Alison (1933 - 2015)

13 September 1933
Tocumwal, Queensland, Australia
18 December 2015
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Botanist and Science administrator


Alison McCusker was appointed first Director of flora programs at the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS), and was instrumental in turning the Flora of Australia from a hopeful concept into viable project. She convened a national editorial committee, recruited early staff, and established the standards and format. Over 35 volumes of the Flora have been published following the plan devised under her supervision. McCusker's early career was as lecturer in botany at Universities of New England, Ghana and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. From ABRS McCusker moved in 1984 to the Environment Strategy Division of the Department of the Environment Sport and Territories, where she was involved in the preparation of cases for world heritage listing. As Deputy Director of the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute McCusker had world-wide responsibilities, including for the Institute's nine research centres in developing countries working to conserve genetic material of important crop plants. She played major role in preparing a report to the F.A.O., State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources (1996). From 1994 McCusker resumed her contribution to the Flora as a volunteer, writing flora treatments and assisting with editing.



1961 - 1964
Career position - Lecturer, Botany Department, University of Ghana
1964 - 1974
Associate Professor and Head of Department, Department of Botany, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
1974 - 1984
Career position - Director of Flora Section, Australian Biological Resources Study
1984 - 1987
Career position - Assistant Director, Environment Strategy Division, Commonwealth Department for the Environment, Sport and Territories
1987 - 1994
Career position - Deputy Director, International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome
Career position - Voluntary Associate Scientist, Australian Biological Resources Study

Published resources

Book Sections

  • George, A.S., McCusker, A., & Orchard, A.E., 'A History of Systematic Botany in Australia' in Flora of Australia, Volume 1: Introduction, Orchard, Anthony E. & Thompson, Helen E., ed. (ABRS & CSIRO Publishing, 1999). Details
  • George, Alex and McCusker, Alison, 'Flora' in Australians, a Guide to Sources, D. H. Borchardt and Victor Crittenden, eds (Broadway: Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates, 1987), pp. 94-103. Details

Journal Articles

  • Briggs, Barbara, 'Vale Alison McCusker OAM 13 September 1933 - 18 December 2015', Australasian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter, 165 (2015), 60-2. Details
  • George, Alex, 'Alison McCusker and the Flora of Australia', Australasian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter, 165 (2015), 62-4. Details

Newspaper Articles

  • Briggs, Barbara, 'Botanist Alison McCusker's Flora of Australia remains a formidable legacy', Sydney Morning Herald (2015). Details


Helen Cohn