Sir Ian William Wark

1899-1985

Ian Wark graduated with high honours from the University of Melbourne (BSc 1920, MSc 1922, DSc 1924). After spending time at universities in London and California, he took an appointment at his alma mater in 1926 to work on problems of interest to the Australian mining industry, his research fellowship being funded by industry.

From 1926-1939 he studied the physics and chemistry of mineral flotation processes and in 1938 he discussed his techniques, results and conclusions in Principles of Flotation, which became a classic.

In 1940 Wark became foundation Chief of the CSIR Division of Industrial Chemistry (now CSIRO) and it worked on a wide variety of scientific problems related to Australia’s participation in World War II. The Division grew rapidly and by 1954 had 105 research workers and a total staff exceeding 300. In 1954 it was split into several divisions these were formed into the Chemical Research Laboratories with Wark as Director.

In 1960 he became a member of the CSIRO Executive. After retirement in 1965 he chaired the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education which recommended the creation of more than 50 colleges of advanced education, a proposal which was partially successful. He received many civic and professional honours including a knighthood in 1969. In 1983 the AusIMM held an international symposium on the Principles of Mineral Flotation in his honour.

Yet for all his distinguished achievements in science and administration, he is best known in some circles by his invention of the trout fly – which is sold worldwide.


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