Australian Women's Register

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Cook, Nancy (1910 - 1999)


21 December 1999
Alternative Names
  • Atkinson, Nancy (birth name)
  • Benko, Nancy (second married name)


Nancy Cook (née Atkinson) was educated at the University of Melbourne, graduating BSc in 1931 and MSc in 1932. She worked as a research scholar and demonstrator in the Department of Bacteriology in Melbourne 1932-1937. In 1937 she moved to the South Australian Government Laboratory of Pathology and Bacteriology (which was incorporated into the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science in 1938), remaining there till 1951. In 1939 she was appointed lecturer in bacteriology at the University of Adelaide, becoming lecturer-in-charge in 1942 and reader-in-charge of Bacteriology in 1952, when she also became full-time at the University. In 1960 she was appointed reader in industrial microbiology and in 1967 moved to the Department of Oral Biology as reader in oral microbiology, retiring in 1975. She was president of the Australian Society for Microbiology 1962-6194. One of her research interests was salmonella and antibiotics. She was appointed Officer of The Order of the British Empire (Civil) on 1 January 1951 for her work in the Department of Bacteriology at the University of Adelaide.

Outside of science, Nancy Atkinson had an interest in the wine industry and South Australian artists: she and her husband established Chalk Hill winery in McLaren Vale and wrote two art books (under the name of Benko): Art and Artists of South Australia and The Art of David Boyd.

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Atkinson, Nancy (1910 - 1999)', in Encyclopedia of Australian Science, 2015,; Fenner, Frank (ed.), History of Microbiology in Australia, Australian Society for Microbiology, Canberra, 1990.

Archival resources

The University of Adelaide Archives

  • Papers of Dr. Nancy Atkinson (1910-99), 1910 - 1999, MSS 0065; The University of Adelaide Archives. Details

Rosanne Walker

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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