The Chemistry Collection


A.C.D. Rivett was born in Tasmania and grew up in Victoria. A brilliant student, he won scholarships to Wesley College, then to the University of Melbourne and Queen’s College. David Orme Masson became a firm friend and mentor, persuading him to switch from medicine to science. Rivett received firstclass honours in chemistry (BSc, 1906) and the Victorian Rhodes scholarship for 1907. At Oxford he earned a BA and BSc (a research degree), both with first-class honours. He spent six months at the Nobel Institute, Stockholm, under Svante Arrhenius, one of the great figures in physical chemistry.


In 1911 Rivett returned to the University of Melbourne and took up a lectureship in chemistry. He married Stella Deakin, daughter of the former Prime Minister Alfred Deakin. He was associate professor from 1920 to 1924 and succeeded Masson as professor of chemistry from 1924 to1927. Although an outstanding teacher, his major achievement was his involvement in building the CSIRO.


Rivett was knighted in 1935. He is commemorated in the name of the ACT suburb of Rivett, the David Rivett Medal, the CSIRO Officers Association and a portrait by Max Meldrum held at CSIRO in Canberra.


BSc (1906), DSc (1913) University of Melbourne, student of Masson. Rhodes Scholar, BA (1909), BSc (1910), MA (1913) University of Oxford. Lecturer, Chemistry, University of Melbourne (1911-1920). Associate Professor, Chemistry, University of Melbourne (1920-1924). Professor of Chemistry, University of Melbourne (1924-1927). Chief Executive Officer of CSIR (1927-1945). Chairman of Council of CSIR(O) (1946-1949).

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