Dr Heather Donald joins the staff, and uses electron microscopy to study influenza virus.

A pioneer in electron microscopy

A gifted student, Dr Heather Donald had gained a Master of Science in physics with first-class honours at the University of Melbourne. She went on to complete her PhD studies in England, where she collaborated with a group of eminent scientists pioneering the use of electron microscopy to study influenza.

Donald returns to Australia in 1954 via Berlin, where she learns the latest improvements in electron microscopy at the Siemens laboratory.

On arriving home in Melbourne, Donald begins her virology research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

Public interest in ‘a brilliant young Victorian scientist’

Donald’s academic and professional success affords her a degree of public profile, however her appearances in The Argus are generally in the ‘Woman’s Page’.

One 1954 article describes Donald as a “vital brunette [who] combines decided femininity with her scholastic record” and captions a portrait of her with a description of her earrings1.

A distinguished career

After marriage to American Richard Mayor in 1956, Donald, now Dr Heather Mayor leaves the institute to take up a position at Harvard Medical School. She goes on to enjoy a brilliant career in virology and molecular biology, lectures worldwide, and among many accolades is named the 1992 Encyclopedia Britannica scientist of the year.

Sydney Morning Herald: Heather Mayor obituary

1 1954 ‘Worked among flu germs, but… SHE DIDN’T GET A COLD.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 13 November, p9

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