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Betty Allan

Frances Elizabeth Allan
Born(1905-07-11)11 July 1905
Died6 August 1952(1952-08-06) (aged 47)
Canberra Community Hospital, ACT
Resting placeCanberra cemetery
Other namesBetty
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne

Frances Elizabeth Allan (1905–1952) was an Australian statistician. She was known as the first statistician at CSIRO, as "the effective founder of the CSIRO Division of Mathematics and Statistics", and for her advocacy of biometrics.

Allan was born on 11 July 1905 in St Kilda, Victoria; her parents were both journalists with The Argus, and she was one of four sisters. As a schoolgirl, she attended the Melbourne Church of England Girls' Grammar School. She studied mathematics at the University of Melbourne, earning a bachelor's degree in 1926 and a master's in 1928 for her work with John Henry Michell on solitary waves on liquid-liquid interfaces. She traveled on a scholarship to Newnham College, Cambridge, where she worked with Ronald Fisher and John Wishart on agricultural statistics.

Returning to Australia in 1930, she became a biometrician in the Division of Plant Industry of CSIRO. While at CSIRO, she also taught at Canberra University College and the Australian Forestry School. In 1935, she helped found the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science. In 1940 she married CSIRO botanist Patrick Joseph Calvert, and was forced to retire by the laws of the time, which banned married women from public service. She died on 6 August 1952 in Canberra.

The Betty Allan Data Centre of CSIRO's Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies is named after her. In 2019 the Statistical Society of Australia and Data61 created a joint travel award named in her honour.

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