Farewell to Dame Miriam Dell

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our Patron, Dame Miriam Dell. 

Dame Miriam Dell ONZ DBE was the Patron of AWIS until her passing in March 2022. During her lifetime, she was a committed advocate for women's issues, honoured for her service with a CBE in 1975, a DBE (Dame Commander) in 1980 and appointed to the Order of New Zealand (ONZ) in 1993.

Dame Miriam was a regular at the AWIS conferences, and we enjoyed her frank and often hilarious thoughts on women's issues in STEM. In 2013, we launched our award for mentoring in her honour, which will continue to bear her name. 

Dame Miriam will be sadly missed by us all.

A career in science (in her own words!)

I graduated in 1944 from Auckland University College (as it was back then) with a BA majoring in History and Botany. I went on to do honours in Botany mainly because my brother had all the text books. I was pipped for a Senior Scholarship by Anne Wylie, a student from Otago. I got first class in my honours papers and was again pipped by Anne Wylie. We have been good friends ever since!!!!

When we moved to Wellington I wanted to finish my thesis so went up to Victoria to start the process. At that time there was some sort of feud between the Botany departments and the Professor would not let me continue with the research I had begun in Auckland. He insisted I take a paper in Statistics and would not approve my thesis subjects. So I became fed up and had a baby instead!!!!! So much for a career in Science.

However I had trained as a secondary school teacher and taught Science for many years. I taught also at night school to students in the pharmacy courses. Some of those students have had distinguished careers in Botany, much to my satisfaction.

My brother, Professor R.E.F. Matthews of Auckland University, was a brilliant scientist and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London as well as NZ. He also held many other important posts. My husband, Richard Dell, worked for his DSc after we were married in 1946 (there was no Ph.D. then!). He was a leading authority on Cephalopods among many other things and Director of the National Museum.