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Michael John (Mike) Dallwitz

Biography

Michael John Dallwitz was born in Adelaide, South Australia on 20 May 1943.

He obtained his BA with first class Honours in Pure Mathematics from the Australian National University in 1964. The title of his Thesis was: ‘The Completeness of Formal Theories’. In 1965, he completed a BSc (Hon 2A) in Physics from the Australian National University with a Thesis titled: ‘The Order-Disorder Transformation in Cu-Au’. He completed his PhD in Solid State Physics at the Australian National University in 1969 for his Thesis titled: ‘Correlation and Vacancy-Flow Effects in Binary Alloys’.

As an undergraduate he received ANU Final Honours Year Scholarships in both 1964 and 1965 and from 1966 to 1968 his PhD research was supported by one of the prestigious General Motors-Holdens’ Postgraduate Research Fellowships.

At CSIRO

From 1969 to 1970 he was a Temporary Lecturer, Department of Physics, Australian National University, Canberra and joined CSIRO Entomology, Canberra as a Research Scientist, in 1970. During the last decade of his time at CSIRO he was a Visiting Fellow in the Molecular Evolution and Systematics Group, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University from 1992 to 2000.

His roles, responsibilities and research interests over his CSIRO career were:

1984 – 2000

Design, testing, and documentation of computer programs for processing descriptive taxonomic data, supervision of analyst/programers writing the programs

1974 – 1992

Supervision of Divisional Computing Unit

1971 – 2000

Collaboration with biologists in the development of descriptive taxonomic databases

1971 – 1987

Computing consultant for Divisional staff, writing general-purpose software

1971 – 1984

Design, programing, testing, and documentation of computer programs for processing descriptive taxonomic data

1970 – 1986

Ecological modelling

He was the originator of the DELTA format for coding taxonomic descriptions. This is a flexible data format, capable of representing most types of information used by taxonomists for description, identification, and classification. The data format and the associated programs are in widespread use for taxonomic research and teaching. In 1988, the IUBS Commission for Plant Taxonomic Databases adopted the DELTA format as a standard for recording and exchanging descriptive taxonomic information.

As summarised below, he travelled extensively to attend conferences, make working visits to collaborators, provide demonstrations and training workshops, and participate in projects such as the International Organisation for Plant Information (IOPI) and the International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases (TDWG).

He left CSIRO in 2000 when the DELTA program was closed.

Workshops on DELTA

He was frequently sponsored to run workshops on the DELTA system as follows:

2002

At the New York Botanical Gardens. [Funding: Smithsonian Institution, Canadian Museum of Nature, New York Botanical Gardens]

1994

At Beijing, China. [Funding: Chinese Academy of Sciences]

1994

At Sandakan, Malaysia. [Funding: Forest Research Institute of Malaysia]

1994

At Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA. [Funding: Harvard University, Canadian Museum of Nature]

1993

At the Flora North America project, St Louis, MO, USA. [Funding: Missouri Botanical Garden]

1992

At the Western Australian Herbarium, Perth. [Funding: ABRS]

1992

At Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, Canada, and Jalapa and Guadalajara, Mexico. [Funding: Agriculture Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, University of Guadalajara]

1992

At the Western Australian Herbarium, Perth. [Funding: ABRS]

1992

At Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, Canada, and Jalapa and Guadalajara, Mexico. [Funding: Agriculture Canada, Canadian Museum of Nature, University of Guadalajara]

1990

At the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Canada, and Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis, MO, USA. [Funding: NSF, Canadian Museum of Nature, Missouri Botanical Garden]

1985

At Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA. [Funding: USDA, Agriculture Canada, Texas A&M University]

1984

At the annual conference of the Systematics Association of New Zealand, Christchurch, New Zealand. [Funding: DSIR]

International committees and activities

1992 – 2000

Member of Data Subcommittee of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses

1993 – 1994

Member of Information Systems Committee of the International Organization for Plant Information

1999

Co-organised a symposium on interactive keys and presented a paper on INTKEY and other interactive key programs at XVI International Botanical Congress, St. Louis, MO, USA. [Funding: NSF]

Honours and awards

1996

CSIRO Medal for development of the DELTA taxonomic computer programs

1965

University Prize in Pure Mathematics

Source

  • Dallwitz MJ, 2009, Personal communication.