10 April 1922 - 29 September 2012.
Nancy Millis described herself as ‘interested in anything that ferments’, an appropriate comment for one of the pioneers of the study of fermentation technology in Australia. She
spent her career seeking links between universities and industry, making connections between science and people's everyday lives.
Born in Melbourne, Nancy had her high school education interrupted when she went to work
as a bookkeeper to help support her family. Eventually she matriculated and studied agriculture at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1948. She spent a year in Papua
New Guinea studying the agricultural methods used by women and later went to Bristol
University to study for her PhD and was introduced to fermentation. Back in Australia she was appointed to a lectureship at Melbourne University where she progressed to become the University’s fourth ever female professor. Nancy Millis instituted the industrial microbiology course and was awarded a personal chair in 1982 until retirement in 1987.
Nancy Millis was a member of the Board of Management of the Fairfield Infectious Diseases
Hospital, the Australian Water Advisory Resources Committee, the Cooperative Research
Centre for Freshwater Ecology, the Council of the Australian Academy of Technological
Sciences, the National Commission for UNESCO and many other professional organisations. She was appointed Chancellor of La Trobe University in 1992. In 1993, she was awarded an honorary D.Sc. from the University of Melbourne and in 2002 was one of five Australian scientists featured on Australian stamps.
A long-term member of Graduate Women Victoria, Nancy was greatly interested in our
Scholarship Program and encouraged the Catalysts’ Society to sponsor a bursary for an
Indigenous student to mark their centenary.
Two bursaries have been awarded in honour of Nancy Millis. In 2009 the Nancy Millis
Bursary was awarded to Sarla Dahiya, a student at the University of Ballarat and in 2013 to
Whitney Boyle, La Trobe University. The Nancy Millis Bursary will be awarded again in