Vale Professor Arthur McComb


(BSc (Melb.),MSc (Melb.),
PhD (Cantab), F. Inst. Biol., FAA)

On Sunday 8th October we lost a great champion for Australia’s aquatic environment with the passing of Professor Arthur McComb. Arthur has been instrumental in the growth of aquatic ecosystem science in Australia. The underlying theme of Arthur’s research was to understand the fundamental processes that control plant biomass in aquatic systems and the place of primary producers in the functioning of whole ecosystems. His work is of considerable management significance, especially in relation to the effects of nutrients from catchments into receiving waters.

Arthur McComb was born in Melbourne, on 9th December 1936, and graduated with both a BSc and MSc from the University of Melbourne in 1959. He then undertook his PhD at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 1962. Arthur was an associate professor at The University of Western Australia from 1963 until 1988, and full professor at Murdoch University until his retirement in 1996. He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science on 27th April 1996, was awarded the Kelvin Medal of the Royal Society of Western Australia in 1997, the Prime Minister’s Centennial medal for environmental science in 2001, the Australian Marine Science Association Silver Jubilee Award in 2002, and a DSc from Murdoch University in 2007. 

Arthur’s legacy will live on through his writings and his students. Arthur has published seminal papers in nearshore systems, estuaries and wetlands. Arthur has written or edited 9 books, including volumes on seagrasses, Australian wetlands, and eutrophic shallow estuaries and lagoons. Over 30 students have completed their PhD’s under his supervision, 3 of whom hold chairs, 2 of them at European universities. His former students are spread throughout Australian science in universities, state government departments and consulting firms, confirming his influence on driving our understanding and management of marine, estuarine and freshwater systems.

 Australian Marine Sciences Association | Silver Jubilee Award - 2002