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Biographical entry Focken, Charles Melbourne (1901 - 1978)

23 October 1901
Kan Lung, Hong Kong
15 August 1978
East hawthorn, Victoria, Australia
Museum director and Physicist


Charles Focken was a physicist who, after 15 years at the University of Otago in New Zealand was appointed Director of the Museum (later Institute) of Applied Science in Melbourne. As Director he completed substantial building works, established a radio-carbon dating laboratory, and secured funding for a planetarium. To modernise the Museum Focken undertook a study tour of museum administration and display methods in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 1953. He also appointed additional staff and increased the Museum's recurrent funding. Between 1962 and 1966 Focken was chief a of mission for a UNESCO program to establish the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology in Valetta, Malta. His publications included a biography of his postgraduate mentor, Lord Rutherford of Nelson (1937) and the textbook Dimensional methods and their applications (1953).



Life event - Settled in Australia with his family
Award - Awarded Rhodes Scholarship
Education - BSc, University of Melbourne
Education - DPhil, University of Oxford
1926 - 1950
Career position - Beverley-Mackenzie Lecturer in Physics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Education - Bachelor of Mining Engineering (BME), University of Melbourne
1933 - 1935
Career position - New Zealand Commonwealth Fund Fellow, Colorado School of Mines, U.S.A.
1950 - 1951
Career position - Reader in Physics, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
1951 - 1960
Career position - Director, Museum of Applied Science, Melbourne
1960 - 1961
Career position - Director, Institute of Applied Science, Melbourne
1962 - 1966
Career position - Established the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology, Valetta, Malta
Life event - Retired

Published resources


See also

  • Rae, Ian D., 'Radiocarbon dating at the Museum of Applied Science Victoria 1952-70: a pioneer venture', Historical Records of Australian Science, 29 (1) (2018), 14-27, Details

Helen Cohn