Andrew Cole interview, 14 September 2012

Dublin Core


Andrew Cole interview, 14 September 2012




During this interview with Professor Andrew ‘Andy’ Cole he discusses his long association with the university. He speaks initially of his student days at the university between 1942-6 having received a Government University Exhibition from Perth Modern School. Cole recollects memories of being a resident at St George’s College. He speaks of individuals that inspired his interest in the university and his study of chemistry. Included are his memories of Josh Reynolds and Professor Noel Bayliss. Senior student at St George’s College, UWA in 1945 he was awarded a Hackett Scholarship for overseas study and spent 1947-9 at St John’s College Oxford. He achieved a DPhil for his thesis entitled The Absorption Spectra of Polyatomic Molecules. Cole also studied in Ottawa before returning to UWA on a Nuffield Research Fellowship in 1952. Between 1955-7 he was senior lecturer in Chemistry at UWA then Reader 1958-68 and Professor of Physics and Head of Department 1971-89.
In the interview Andrew outlines a dynamic career at a growing and dynamic university. He speaks at length of the changes that he saw in the Chemistry Department many of which he instigated through his work and drive. He speaks of his involvement with research in spectroscopy and infrared. He outlines his work with the CSIRO and IUPAC international Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. Cole speaks of the future planning and path at the University, a subject he wrote about in 1980 in a report suggesting a plan for University’s development. Many of his suggestions for the university have been implemented.


Cole, Andrew


University of Western Australia Historical Society


Copyright holder University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


John Bannister


Andrew Cole


Perth, W.A.


Interview 1: 54 minutes, 59 seconds
Interview 2: 53 minutes, 34 seconds
Interview 3: 1 hour, 51 seconds
Total: 2 hours, 49 minutes, 24 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

Track 1
00:00:00 Andrew Reginald Howard Cole. Family background. Schooling. Education and encouragement. Education was all free. Modern School scholarship and University. Science teachers exhibition. Influence of Modern School and interest in science. Jock Hetherington, Cliff Garrick and Gordon Brown. Developing an interest in science. Elite school and the training of students and aims of university.
00:08:10 Taking up a branch in science. Interest in chemistry. Jock Hetherington and the reputation of the University. Interest in becoming a teacher. Advice from Pips Piper. Origins of the interest in science. Physical sciences and other subjects. Statistical mathematics and chemistry.
00:13:40 Original experiences of UWA and travel from Midland. Josh Reynolds and St George’s College. Memories of St George’s. University senate and UWA and St George’s College students. WWII. An essential stream of study.
00:17:14 Josh Reynolds was very eccentric. Feelings of St George’s College toward the University. Special tutorials at St George’s College. Memories of the day at St George’s College. Academic gowns and the dining hall. Memories of the college common room and study.
00:22:50 Guild of Undergraduates. Essential part of University life. Sport at university and College. Factions and high schools. Cricket at the university. Hockey and Rowing. Sheffield Shield and cricket after the war. Meeting friends from Modern School. Hackett Studentship.
00:28:25 Impact of the second world war at University. American forces at the university. Currie Hall. Bachelor Officers Quarters. Engineering and agricultural school at UWA. Enrolments and returned servicemen. Teaching. BFC. Memories of Noel Bayliss Rhodes Scholar. Research project and interest in chemistry.
00:40:00 Signing a bond to become a science teacher. Doing Honours. Awarded First class honours and going overseas. Working on university grant. Working with Bayliss and Underwood. Spectroscopic research.
00:44:35 Studying at Oxford and Canada and help by Bayliss. First Class Honours and Phase diagram. Study of solubility of one or more substances in water.
00:47:52 Study of Infertility in sheep and trace elements. Spectroscopic methods of analysis. CSIRO working spectroscopy. Lloyd Reece.
00:51:33 Going to England and seeking advice. Infra-red spectroscopy. Oxford or Cambridge. D.Phil. St John’s College.

Track 2
00:00:00 Memories of St John’s College. Isolation and the Hackett Scholarship. Noel Bayliss. Memories of the trip. Residing in the college. Comparisons of St John’s and St George’s. Research physical chemistry lab. Tommy Thompson. Memories of research. DPhil. New research infra-red spectroscopy.
00:07:00 Home made spectroscopes. Infra-red spectroscopy description of and comparisons. Examination and thesis. Dr Jack Limit and Professor Ingold. Passing. Cricket and golf. Post doctoral fellowship in Canada. The absorption spectra of polyatomic molecules.
00:13:45 National research council Ottawa. Study of carbon compounds. Use of infra-red spectroscopy. Use of infra red spectroscopy. Wide interest to chemist. Infra-red absorption. Memories of Post Doc. Noel Bayliss encourages return to UWA.
00:18:00 Coming back to Australia. Making of the equipment required. Working in England 1952. Interactions and connections. Derrick Barton Triterpinoids. Infra-red absorption in molecules structure.
00:22:00 Coming back to UWA to set up an IR lab. Comparisons to the other academic institutions. ANZAAS. CSIRO. Availability of equipment. Lloyd Reece, Noel Bayliss and Alec Walsh and physics and chemistry Conference at UWA. Second spectroscopy conference. Nuffield grant. Marriage.
00:26:22 Looking at future career. Stokes leaves as senior lecturer. Becoming a member of the academic staff. Senior lecturer at UWA.
00:27:55 Designing new equipment and techniques. Role as senior lecturer. Specialised work. Recruiting people. Impressions of UWA and setting up the laboratory. Equipment and money. Run of the mill research. Research interests. Equipment needed.
00:33:25 Diffraction grating. Description of equipment. Better equipped lab in WA. Other interests. x-ray diffraction. Small gas molecule. Studying glyoxalin. Study and research student. Publishing annual papers.
00:41:20 Vacuum spectroscopy. Measuring wavelength. High resolution spectroscopy. Seeing UWA’s growing reputation. Interveromiter. Coming of the use of computers. Memories of the early use of computers.
00:45:50 International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. Personal involvement in UPAC. Management community. Keeping abreast of work around the world.
00:50:30 Sabbatical leave. 1959. Working overseas.

Track 3
00:00:00 Sabbatical leave, travel. Comparisons of UWA with national and overseas universities. New development and attracting academics at UWA. Talents of the research students. Good development in x-ray crystallography. Ted Mazlin*. Collaboration. Planning report.
00:05:15 1969 appointed personal chair. Member of the Australian Academy of Science. Noel Bayliss. Academic plan for the university. University developments. Views of other departments.
00:10:00 Writing submissions. Academic plan 1970-80. Size and enrolment. Research expenditure, staff deficit. Size and numbers and finance. X-ray crystallography
00:13:38 Community of UWA. Fee-paying students and client relationship. HEX fees. Staff/student ratios. Head of Department. Head of Physical and Organic Chemistry. Overseas university and rotating post. Rottnest conferences. Recruitment of staff and looking at courses.
00:22:00 Chairman of the School responsibility. Acting Chief Examiner of public examinations. TAE. University students go out in the world. Dean of Faculty. Award Archibald Olly Prize* 1978. Leyton Memorial Medal. Aust Government Centenary Medal.
00:29:17 Involvement with senate in 1980. The overall running of the university. Memories of personal involvements. Prescott – Whelan* - Street - Gale. Support of senate to chemistry. Grant from other organisation. IUPAC, international involvements, the benefits for university of WA.
00:36:20 Travel. Memories of being chairman of UNESCO conference. Importance of writing papers. Writing text books. Don Watts. Chemical Properties and Reactions.
00:44:20 Training. Science Summer School. Rotary medal. Computers and golf handicaps. Statistical mathematics and golf scores. Looking back at UWA and the Chemistry Department. George Osborne, Andy Green, Frank Honey, many other research students. Hopes for the University. Pace of development. Other universities development.



Cole, Andrew, “Andrew Cole interview, 14 September 2012,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed July 13, 2024,