I spoke in parliament today about the late Chris McElhinny.
19 March 2012
Dr Chris McElhinny, Senior Lecturer in Silviculture at the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society, died on 18 February 2012. Chris's 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 Parliament House suite of the President of the Senate.
My neighbour Brian Turner tells me that Chris's curiosity led him to then enrol in an undergraduate forestry degree. 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 his capacity to engage and motivate students, to help them learn and to challenge them to excel were inspiring to his colleagues and 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's courage and good humour in the face of an untimely and ultimately terminal illness were equally characteristic.
I extend my sympathy to his wife, Sarah, and their children and family. Chris's 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 forest and woodlands.
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