Ruby Payne Scott

Ruby Violet Hall (1912-1981), physicist, was born on 28 May 1912 at Grafton, New South Wales, daughter of Amy and Cyril Hermann Payne Scott, accountant. She attended Fort St Girls' High and the University of Sydney, graduating BSc in 1933 with first class honours in mathematics and physics. She shared the Deas Thomson Scholarship for Physics III and the Walter Burfitt scholarship for physics with R. H. Healey and received the Norbert Quirk prize for Mathematics III.

Ruby worked as a demonstrator in the Physics Department and the following year was appointed assistant physicist in cancer research. During her period in this appointment she published two papers on X-ray research, the first in 1936 in the Journal of Cancer Research, and the second in the British Journal of Radiology in 1937. During these years she also worked for her MSc (1936).

After obtaining her MSc she returned to the Department of Physics and worked as a demonstrator. There were few opportunities for academic promotion and so Ruby prepared for a teaching career. In 1938 she was awarded a Diploma in Education and took up a position as science mistress at Woodlands Church of England Grammar School, Glenelg in South Australia.

The war changed many lives. For Ruby it opened the doors once more to a career in her chosen field of physics and mathematics. She returned to Sydney and joined the staff of the Amalgamated Wireless Australasia as a radio engineer. She spent two and a half years working with AWA and then in August 1941 was appointed assistant research officer in the Division of Radio Physics in the CSIR.

During the war years she worked on radar development and after the war on research in radio astronomy. She wrote a number of papers which were published in scientific journals both as sole author or co-author. Her co-authors included J. L. Pawsey, L. L. McCready, D. E. Yabsley and J. G. Bolton. In 1946 she was reclassified to research officer and on her retirement was a research officer grade III.

In 1944 Ruby married W. H. Hall but continued her career until July 1951 when she resigned to await the birth of her son. In 1961 Ruby returned to the workforce - it was too late to return to her chosen field but she now used her talents in the education of young girls. She was appointed as mathematics and science teacher at Danebank Anglican School for Girls, Sydney, and established a Science Department at the School. She remained at this school until her retirement in 1974. She died on 25 May 1981, survived by her husband, a son and a daughter.

Ursula Bygott