Barbara Evans (Fletcher)

Born 15 May 1943. Attended Camberwell High School 1957- 1960

Barbara Evans, university lecturer and researcher, came to Camberwell High from Mont Albert Central School. Barbara was a member of the Senior Choir, Madrigal Choir and was Sports Captain in 1960. Whilst still a student at Camberwell, in 1959 and 1960, Barbara had the distinction of being Australian Women’s Gymnastic Champion and won the Australian titles for parallel bars and beam.

After matriculating in the sciences, Barbara completed a Diploma of Physical Education at the University of Melbourne in 1963 and a Trained Secondary Teachers’ Certificate in 1964. At Melbourne University Barbara was placed first in gymnastics and third I springboard diving in intervarsity competition, she won a full Blue for gymnastics and a half Blue for swimming. In 1964 she represented Australia in gymnastics at the Olympic Games in Tokyo and in 1966 at the World Gymnastic Championships in Dortmund, Germany. Barbara then won numerous Victorian and Australian gymnastic titles until 1969, when she finally retired from competition.

Between 1965-9 she taught physical education in state secondary schools and, as a part-time student, completed a BSc with 1st Class Honours in Zoology in 1970, during which year she was also a Tutor in Zoology. Since then Barbara has been successively, Demonstrator (1970-4), Lecturer (1975-82), Senior Lecturer (1983-90) and, finally, Reader (1991) in Zoology. In 1976 she completed her PhD in the field of automotive physiology and pharmacology. Her administrative positions in the Department of Zoology have included Coordinator of Biology (1983-6). She is a member of a number of important Melbourne University committees and has been a member of the Council of Melbourne University since 1990.

Barbara has maintained her links with schools through her involvement with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Board (VCAB), her membership of the Biology Field of Study Committee (FOSC) and as a Curriculum Consultant for the new VCE Biology Study Design. For a number of years she was a member of the HSC/VCE Biology Examining Panel and has recently co-authored two textbooks for the new VCE Biology course: Biology One: organisms and environments and Biology Two: survival and change, both published by Heinemann Educational (Australia). Barbara is currently a member of the Council of University High School.

Her many and varied research interests, for which funds have been received from many prestigious national granting bodies, have focused on Australian fauna and include the investigation of the side-effects of treatment with antihypertensive drugs; the cardiovascular and respiratory physiology of molluscs, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals and the diving physiology of vertebrates. Recent work has included the understanding and management of stress in captive native animals and, in particular, the reproductive biology of platypuses and echidnas. Because the platypus is an extremely stressed animal in captivity, and is known to have successfully reproduced in captivity only once, a practical problem is faced by zoos wishing to display this mammal. Virtually nothing is known, for example, of its reproductive endocrinology. Barbara’s work on the platypus was the subject of a recent ABC Quantum program.

Her overall research has generated numerous articles and papers published in major international journals. She is currently a member of a number of scientific societies including the Australian Physiological and Pharmacological Society, the Australian Neurosciences Society and the Society of Experimental Biology (England). She has been Research Associate, School of Biologial Sciences, University of East Anglia, England, (1981), Senior Research Associate with the Baker Medical Research Institute, Melbourne, (1982-90) and Visiting Scientist, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Canada, (1987).

She is currently co-author/editor of a massive 850 page book commissioned by McGraw-Hill entitled Australian Biology, due for publication in 1992.