Dr. Shirley Jeffrey, recipient of the Shinkishi Hatai Medal at the PSC-21 in Okinawa in 2007, passed away in early January 2014 at the age of 83. Dr. Jeffrey was one of the world’s great phytoplankton scientists and made very significant contributions to the science of the Pacific and to marine biology globally.

Shirley Jeffrey received a BSc from the University of Sydney in 1952 and an MSc in 1954. She attended King’s College Hospital Medical School in London for her Ph.D on the effect of aspirin on carbohydrate metabolism. Upon returning to Sydney, she worked with Dr. George Humphrey at CSIRO Division of Fisheries and Oceanography, which marked the beginning of her lifelong career in marine science. From 1962 to 1964, Jeffrey was at the University of California, Berkeley as a Research Fellow. In 1965 she joined the maiden voyage of the Alpha Helix, the research vessel of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which visited Australia to study the ecology of the Great Barrier Reef. Jeffrey was a principal research scientist at CSIRO’s marine biochemistry unit between 1971 and 1977. From 1977 to 1981 she was a Senior Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO Division of Fisheries and Oceanography, and later Acting Chief of CSIRO Division of Fisheries Research (1981-84). In 1991 she became a Chief Research Scientist. From 1978 to 1995, Jeffrey was in charge of developing CSIRO’s Collection of Living Microalgae (also known as the Algal Culture Collection). In 1996 UNESCO published Phytoplankton Pigments in Oceanography which Jeffrey co-edited.

In addition to receiving the Shinkishi Hatai Medal from the Science Council of Japan in 2007, Dr. Jeffrey received numerous other honors, including: appointment as a member of the Order of Australia in 1992; the Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal from the U.S. National Academy of Science in 1993, and the Australian Centenary Medal in 2003.

Her work was characterized by a rigorous commitment to accuracy, both in the lab and in the written word, as well as a desire to write clearly in English for the benefit of scientists based in non-English speaking, lower-income countries. During her long illness, Dr. Jeffrey said that she hoped that people won’t be sad when she goes, and that she was comforted by the thought of being with her late husband, Andy Heron, who died in 1988.