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Robert Langdon Crocker (1914–1963)

from Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales

Robert Crocker, 1962

Robert Crocker, 1962

photo supplied by Peter Crocker

Professor Robert Langdon Crocker, D.Sc, Professor of Biology, of the Botany Department, University of Sydney, died suddenly on 20th June, 1963. He had been elected to membership of the Society in May, 1955, was elected to Council in June, 1956, and resigned as a Councillor on 29th August, 1962. Professor Crocker was born at Peterborough, South Australia, in July, 1914, His secondary education was received at Scotch College, Adelaide, where, in addition to, his scholastic achievements, he became the College's leading athlete. On coming up to the University of Adelaide, his original inclinations were towards Agricultural Science, or Forestry, possibly being influenced by his home background, for he was the son of a farmer in the marginal farming land of South Australia. He became interested in Geology and Botany, and at graduation in 1935 seemed likely to make his career in Geology. His close friendship with the late Professor J. G. Wood, then Professor of Botany at Adelaide, swung the balance in favour of plants. He joined the staff of the Division of Soils, C.S.I.R., in 1936, but later transferred to the Agronomy Department of the Waite Institute. He was a member of the first expedition to cross the Simpson Desert in 1939. During the war years 1940-1943, he was an explosives chemist attached to the Ministry of munitions. In 1947, he was awarded a D.Sc. by the University of Adelaide for his contributions to ecology and soils. He then spent two years in Cambridge and travelled as a Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation. Upon return to Australia, he was appointed Reader in Grassland Ecology with the University of Adelaide. In 1950 he joined the staff of the University of California at Berkeley as Associate Professor of Soil Morphology, and was made a Full Professor in 1951. He was invited by the University of Sydney to the Chair of Botany in 1954. Professor Crocker published over thirty papers. His work is a major development of the philosophy of the science of soils and plant ecology, especially in their conjuncture. In his chosen field, his achievements made him the spokesman of the times. An account of Professor Crocker's work appears in The Union Recorder (published by the Sydney University Union), Vol. XLIII, No. 17, p. 185, August 1, 1963

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'Crocker, Robert Langdon (1914–1963)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 April 2024.

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