Profile written by Gisela T. Kaplan
WISENET Journal No. 12, September 1987, p. 14
Dr. Lesley Rogers, Physiology Department, UNE was awarded a D. Sc. from Sussex University, England for her research in neuroethological studies in brain function and behaviour.
Lesley J. Rogers grew up in Adelaide. In her final school year, she obtained the top marks in the local high school but as the school had decided that it was improper to make a girl the dux of the school a boy with lower marks was found and she was declared the dux of the girls' school. That was in 1960. She then went to the University of Adelaide, having won a Commonwealth Undergraduate Award and a bursary by the University of Adelaide, to undertake a degree of science with majors in biochemistry and zoology.
The Honours degree was completed with first class honours in 1964. In 1965, she won the George Murray scholarship for study at Harvard University. She spent from 1965 to early 1967 at Harvard, reading in a multitude of postgraduate courses towards the PhD degree. However, her role in demonstrations against the Vietnam war did not endear her to her supervisors and she was advised to leave. For the following nine months she worked in gastroenterological research at the New England Medical Centre Hospital in Boston, then moved to London and eventually to Sussex University where, in 1971, she completed a PhD in ethology under Prof. Richard Andrew. During her time in England she taught at the Open University.
After a seven year absence, Lesley Rogers returned to Australia in 1972. She took up a position of Senior Tutor at Monash University. Apart from one year as Senior Research Fellow at ANU, she remained at Monash University until 1985. Lesley Rogers became an active spokes- person for women's rights both in the political sphere and by giving special lecture series at various universities, by contributing to feminist publications and by appearing on radio programs and television. She was co-founder of a movement called 'Science for the People' and took an active stand on many controversial issues, including the 2,4,5-T debate. She was an expert witness at the Australian Royal Commission enquiry into the use of pesticides and herbicides in Vietnam.
It is noticeable that Lesley Rogers never managed to secure a tenured position at Monash University in fourteen years of service to that university. Despite the fact that she had an impeccable publication record and an ever increasing impressive volume of publications, despite the overt international recognition which grew over the years, expressed also in publications in prestigious international Who is Who publications (never in Australia), she often had to support herself on ARGS grants and then was kept in an untenured (temporary) lecturing position in the Pharmacology Department for the maximum period of five years.
It was not until the University of New England recognised her research contributions and appointed her to the Physiology staff in 1985 that she had a tenured position and, for the first time, an opportunity to plan for the future and to expand her fields of responsibility.
Whilst at UNE, supported with good research facilities, she completed new exciting research. In 1987, Sussex University awarded her the D. Sc. for her outstanding contribution to brain and behaviour research, as a result of the recommendations by two leading scholars in the field at Cambridge University. She was honoured in England in July this year.