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McElhinny, Christopher (Chris) (1958–2012)

Dr Chris [Christopher] McElhinny, Senior Lecturer in Silviculture at the ANU Fenner School of Environment & Society, died on 18 February 2012.

Chris’ first career was as a craftsman and teacher in wood—he taught at the then Canberra (now ANU) Institute of the Arts from 1983–1991.

Amongst other distinctions in that role, he made the furniture for the President of the Senate's Parliament House suite.

Chris’ curiosity about the trees and forests from which the wood he fashioned came led him to then enrol as an undergraduate forestry student.

He flourished in a brilliant second academic career, being awarded the Schlich Medal for his undergraduate studies in 1998, a University Medal on completion of his Honours degree in 1999, and a PhD in 2004 for his research on the structural complexity of woodlands.

Chris joined the academic staff of what is now the Fenner School in 2005, and resumed a role in which his gifts as a researcher, and as a teacher and mentor of students, were evident to all.

His capacity to engage and motivate students, to help them learn, and to challenge them to excel, were inspiring to his colleagues as well as to his students.

So too were his talents to help his students publish the results of their work, and the quality and collaborative spirit of his own insightful research about Australia’s forests and woodlands.

Chris’ courage and good humour in the face of an untimely and ultimately terminal illness were equally characteristic.

All of those who worked and learned with Chris extend our sympathy to his wife Sarah, and their children and families.

Chris' professional legacy endures in the many graduates of his courses, through those he supervised, in his and their publications, and in the beautiful woodwork that helped catalyse his interest in Australia's forests and woodlands.

Original publication

  • Forester, vol 55, no 1, March 2012, p 30

Additional Resources

Citation details

'McElhinny, Christopher (Chris) (1958–2012)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/mcelhinny-christopher-chris-18376/text30020, accessed 25 November 2017.

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