Edmund Gill: life and work
Edmund Dwen Gill was born in 1908 at Auckland, New Zealand. He grew up on the east coast of the North Island and left to study at the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne College of Divinity in 1928. He received his BA in 1935 and his BD in 1938. He married Kathleen Brebner, a music teacher from Warrnambool, in 1935.
Gill ministered in Essendon for the Baptist Church and was particularly interested in youth work. However his passion for science became an increasingly major focus of his life; he studied zoology part time and in 1938 published his first paper in the journal of the Victorian Field Naturalists’ Club. Ultimately, his views on evolution conflicted with his work for the church, and he resigned from the ministry in 1948 and became the curator of fossils at the National Museum of Victoria. He later became the Assistant Director, and remained at the museum until his retirement in 1973, when he became a research fellow at CSIRO to continue his work on coastal processes. He left CSIRO in 1979 and commenced a teaching and research collaboration with Dr John Sherwood at the Warrnambool Institute for Advanced Education which continued until Gill’s sudden death in July 1986.
Edmund Gill worked primarily in Australian geology and established his reputation in this area. He researched Victorian and Tasmanian Siluro-Devonian stratigraphy and palaeontology, and also had research interests in geomorphology, quarternary environments, archaeology, vulcanology, megafauna, and palaeoclimates. He was a pioneer in the use of radio carbon dating, and other scientific testing for research and was an expert in the landscape of Victoria. Much of his research was focussed on the Western District, where his wife’s family home was located.
Gill was a leading communicator, teacher and researcher in the earth sciences and travelled internationally to lecture and take up fellowships. He was an active participant and organiser in many professional societies and published over 400 papers during his working life. He was well known and highly regarded by both the Australian and international scientific communities.1