Dr Joyce Vickery MBE (1926)

Senior Prefect and winner of the Old Girls’ Prize, Joyce Vickery studied Botany at the University of Sydney, becoming a Plant Taxonomist, Forensic Botanist and Conservationist. 

Joyce was the first woman research officer employed by the NSW Herbarium and much of her work is still housed at the Royal Botanic Gardens. When Joyce was offered this post, she refused the lowered salary that was on offer for women, insisting on being paid according to her qualifications. Thereafter she conducted long-running battles with the NSW Public Service Board over equal pay for equal work. 

Joyce was a pioneer in forensic botany. Prior to the advances in DNA analysis and modern forms of forensic technology, it was Joyce who identified the scraps of plants and soil at crime scenes that were later used as evidence in the courts. 

Joyce worked tirelessly to transform the Herbarium into a modern scientific research institution. As an early conservationist, she supported the establishment of many wildlife sanctuaries and reserves. She campaigned in the 1960s for the preservation of the fragile ecology of Kosciuszko National Park, producing an extensive report on grazing and erosion at her own expense. . 

Friends remember Joyce as good humoured, modest, loyal and an independent thinker. She displayed a great tolerance for others and was generous in her professional and financial support. Declaring in childhood that ...she didn’t want any man hanging on to her coat-tails, she never married. Following her death, the Linnean Society of NSW named its research fund in honour of her work.

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