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Biographical entry White, Michael James Denham (1910 - 1983)


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    Michael James Denham White

20 August 1910
London, England
16 December 1983
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Geneticist and Zoologist


Michael White was Professor of Zoology 1958-1964 and then Professor of Genetics 1964-1975, University of Melbourne. From 1976 he was a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Population Biology at the Australian National University. He made important contributions to many aspects of cytology and cytogenetics and to evolutionary biology, including speciation theory and systematics.


Born London, England, 20 August 1910. Died Canberra, 16 December 1983. Educated University of London (BSc (Hons) 1931, MSc 1932, DSc 1940). MSc, University of Melbourne, 1959. Assistant Lecturer in Zoology, University College London 1932-35, Lecturer in Zoology 1935-40; Rockefeller Research Fellow, Columbia University, United States of America 1937-38; Wartime positions as Statistician and Entomologist, British Ministry of Food 1940-45; Reader in Zoology, University of London 1945-47; Guest Investigator, Department of Genetics, Carnegie Institute of Washington, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 1947; Professor of Zoology, University of Texas 1947-53; Senior Research Fellow, Genetics Section, Division of Plant Industry, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Canberra 1953-56; Associate Professor, then Professor of Zoology, University of Missouri 1957-58; Professor of Zoology, University of Melbourne 1958-64; Professor of Genetics, University of Melbourne 1964-75; Visiting Fellow, Department of Population Biology, Australian National University 1976-83. Fellow, Australian Academy of Science 1955, Fellow, Royal Society 1961; Honorary Foreign Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1963; Mueller Medal, Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science 1965; Foreign Member, American Philosophical Society 1978; Socio Straniero, Accademia Nazionale dei Lencei 1978; Silver Medal for Research, Royal Society of Victoria 1979; Foreign Associate, United States National Academy of Sciences 1981; Linnean Medal for Zoology, Linnean Society of London 1983; Minerva Medal, University of Rome 1983. President, Section D, Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science 1962; President, Genetics Society of Australia 1970-72, Honorary Member 1980; President, Australian Entomological Society 1969-71.

Related Awards

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Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Michael James Denham White - Records, 1973 - 1978, MS 078; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO

  • Michael James Denham White - Records, 1948 - 1972; Australian National Insect Collection, CSIRO. Details

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • Michael James Denham White - Records, 1926 - 1985; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • McCarthy, Gavan; Manhal, Oscar, The Records of Michael James Denham White (1910-1983) (Melbourne: Australian Science Archives Project, 1989), 112 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Peacock, Jim, 'White, Michael James Denham (1910-183), Zoologist and Geneticist' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 18 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2012), pp. 591-2. Details
  • Sapp, Jan, 'Geographic Isolation and the Origin of Species: the Migrations of Michael White' in International Science and National Scientific Identity: Australia between Britain and America, R. W. Home and Sally Gregory Kohlstedt, eds (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991), pp. 233-254. Details

Conference Papers

  • McCann, Doug, 'Notes on Biography and Historiography of Science - the Life and Work of Michael White', in Recovering Science: Strategies and Models for the Past, Present and Future: Proceedings of a Conference Held at the University of Melbourne, October 1992 edited by Tim Sherratt, Lisa Jooste and Rosanne Clayton (Canberra: Australian Science Archives Project, 1995), pp. 29-34.. Details

Journal Articles


Resource Sections

See also

  • Dahlitz, Ray, Secular who's who : a biographical directory of freethinkers, secularists, rationalists, humanists and others involved in Australia's secular movement from 1850 onwards (Balwyn, Victoria: R. Dahlitz, 1994), 192 pp. p.120. Details
  • Danks, D.; Duffield, A.; Sargeson, A., 'Berthold Halpern 1923-1980', Historical Records of Australian Science, 5 (4) (1983), 72-81. Details

Digital resources

Michael James Denham White


Rosanne Walker