Two of The University of Western Australia's great scholars who have left their marks on the State were honoured this week by the dedication of two lecture theatres in their names.
Emeritus Professor Martyn Webb was Foundation Professor of Geography, arriving in WA in 1964 at the beginning of the mining boom. His work in establishing geography as a discipline to serve Western Australia saw him awarded honorary memberships to the Royal Australian Institute of Architects; the Australia and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science; the Australian Institute for Urban Studies; and the Planning Institute of Australia.
As adviser to the Country Shire Councils Association, Professor Webb was one of the initiators of the Western Australian Local Government Association. He also helped found the WA Conservation Council and was its Trustee for many years. As a member of the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry he advised on the planning and development of Perth as a State capital.
The late Dr Joseph Gentilli was one of the founders of the Department of Geography and for the last 60 years of his life was involved with research and academic life at the University. His work is known world-wide for its original and far-sighted contributions, particularly in climatology.
"His work in this area is a series of world firsts," UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said. "He prepared the first accurate climate and rainfall maps for Australia. He was the first to recognise climactic features that are important in understanding climate patterns across northern and central Australia. He was the first to describe the nature of the Leeuwin current - a system of enormous significance for our State's fisheries and marine life."
Dr Gentilli also identified factors in the Indian Ocean that lead to the onset of weather patterns in other parts of the world and was the first to do comparative work on climate systems of the southern continents. He was one of the first to begin looking for evidence of the enhanced greenhouse effect in climate records of Australia.
"As our University strives towards achieving international excellence, we can only do so by building on the brilliant work of scholars such as Professor Webb and Dr Gentilli," Professor Robson said.
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716