Catherine Anne Money
Catherine Anne Money (nee Menzies) was born in Melbourne, Australia on 18 August 1940. Her father was Douglas Ian Menzies a High Court Judge and cousin of Sir Robert Menzies, founder of the Australian Liberal party and former Prime Minister of Australia. Catherine’s mother was Helen Jean Borland a Kindergarten Teacher and Community Worker.
Catherine’s primary and secondary education was at Fintona Girls’ School, Balwyn from 1945 to 1957. As Catherine recalled:
I was always interested in how things worked and requested a microscope as a present when my parents went overseas when I was eleven. They met Canadian Charles H Best (of insulin discovery fame), on a plane and asked him where they should buy a microscope. The families became life-long friends and I became interested in biochemistry. Science was not popular at Fintona and for Year 11 Chemistry we had to go to school on Saturday mornings as we shared a teacher with another school. In Year 12 I often took Physics experiments home to work them out as the teacher couldn’t help me.
She obtained her BSc from the University of Melbourne in 1960 with an Exhibition in Biochemistry and with a Scholarship in Biochemistry completed her MSc at the University of Melbourne in 1963. Her thesis was titled: ‘Thyroid Enzymes’ and her supervisor was Professor Victor Trikojus.
From 1963 to 1965 she was a postgraduate Research student engaged in research for a PhD at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College, London, with Professor EM Crook working on immobilised enzymes.
In 1966, she joined the Leather Research Centre, at the CSIRO Division of Protein Chemistry as an Experimental Scientist, being promoted to Senior Research Scientist in 1987. As Catherine recalled:
Gordon Lennox, Chief of the Division of Protein Chemistry, enabled me to have a wonderful career at CSIRO. I went to see him the day I heard I could not complete a PhD started in London. I had returned to Melbourne as my mother was dying. Gordon told me the only position he had was in Leather Research and I would have to visit abattoirs around Australia. When I was really interested, he immediately offered me the position which was for a PhD graduate. He was always interested in my work and when I found that freezing hide caused hair-loosening, he suggested it might be due to lysosomal enzymes. This led to the paper, ‘Lysosomal hair-loosening of hides’ in 1971 and an understanding of the mechanism of an Australian fellmongering process.
In 1968, I told Gordon Lennox I would have to leave CSIRO as I was expecting our first baby. However, he arranged for me to work part-time, any hours I wanted, and I still had a full-time assistant, Udo Adminis. This was a first in CSIRO! I had three children and each time I was back at work for two afternoons a week within three weeks. I stayed part-time, four days a week, until 1988 when our youngest son was in Year 11 and I was able to be President of the School Council and be involved in the community.
In 1988, following the recommendations of the McKinsey review into CSIRO, the Leather research group became part of a new amalgamated Division of Wool Technology with headquarters at Geelong and new leather research facilities to be established at Clayton. From 1988 to 1998, Catherine Money was Deputy Leader of the Leather Research Centre and Leader of the Bovine Leathers project being promoted to Principal Research Scientist in 1989. In 1998, she was promoted to the position of Group Manager of CSIRO Textile and Fibre Technology’s Leather Research Centre at Clayton. In 2001, she was appointed Officer-in-Charge, CSIRO Leather Research Centre at Clayton.
Career highlights include:
- the development and implementation of improved, clean tannery processes including:
- short-term preservation of hides and skins
- process liquor recycling
- hair-saving unhairing and hair utilisation
- carbon dioxide deliming
- rapid tanning
- management of the $1.6 million, ACIAR (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) project, Salinity Reduction in Tannery Effluents in India and Australia, July 2002 to 2008; hides and skins preservation and processing developments are being implemented in India
- management of Meat Research Corporation Projects (MRC, now MLA); initiated, planned, secured and managed four Projects with funding of $2 million, 1987 to 1996
- management of a $1 million DISR Industry Collaborative Project, 1997 to 2000; included managing the interaction with the industry collaborators which involved research and industry trials
- serving as CSIRO Consultant to the Leather Industry and to Government Departments in Australia and Overseas (including India, United Arab Emirates, Oman, China, Ethiopia)
- the development and improvement of preservation process and technology
- quality improvement of cattle, sheep, kangaroo, goat, camel and crocodile hides, skins and leather
- advising on environmental issues and regulations: trade waste, irrigation, waste minimisation and utilisation, prescribed waste; chromium in soils and tannery waste; some scientifically based regulations have been achieved
- advising on effluent treatments, including appropriate tannery developments and design, problem solving and training.
She served as a consultant to:
- the United Arab Emirates for the Establishment of a Camel Tannery (2001)
- UNIDO in India (1998)
- the Sultanate of Oman on hide and skin technology in 1982, assessing the existing rural cottage industry and formulating strategies for the staged development of a tanning industry; carried out for GRM the international development management company.
She has conducted training courses for Australian Tanning and Meatworks Industries, UNIDO (SE Asia), and China and was a guest lecturer in China (1987) and India (1988, 1999, 2001 to 2007).
Retirement and consulting
Catherine Money retired from CSIRO in November 2005 and established her own company Catherine Money Consulting specialising in the leather industry and environment. She continued to manage an extension of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIR) Project, Salinity Reduction in Tannery Effluents in India and Australia.
She was Hide and Skin Technology Consultant to GRM for the Ethiopian Livestock Development Master Plan Study for the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, May/June 2006 and wrote the report: Hides and Skins Production and Marketing.
She has served as Auditor for the International Leather Working Group Environmental Audit – conducting four audits for Australian tanneries, three in 2010.
In looking back over her career she recalled:
CSIRO closed the Leather Research Centre in 2005. I agreed to consult to industry which I have enjoyed. I couldn’t stop smiling after I read an article ‘Who are the Greatest Leather Scientists’ in the October 2009 Leather International. I was listed as the top Leather Scientist post 1970 and my 1991 JA Wilson Lecture [Money CA, 1991, ‘Tannery waste minimization’, John Arthur Wilson Memorial Lecture, J Amer Leath Chem Ass., 86: 227] was cited. It was a great honour to be included in a list with Procter and Wilson etc. I wrote to the editors saying “what you wrote captured what I tried to achieve”. I tried to do good, useful science to overcome industry problems, especially environmental issues. I have thought about my career in leather research a lot since reading the article. The most rewarding things were the many friendships and seeing developments that I was involved in being taken up by industry.
As a result I decided I still had things to say and I wrote three articles and one paper which were all published in 2010. Jim Scroggie should have shared the honour with me but Jim’s retirement in 1987 meant that I received more International recognition because I was asked to give the Wilson and Procter Lectures.
Honours and awards
|1998||The Public Service Medal – for services to the leather industry|
|1995||Procter Memorial Lecture – presented to the Society of Leather Technologists and Chemists in the UK; lecture title: ‘Unhairing and Dewooling – Requirements for Quality and the Environment’, British Section of the International Society of Leather Trades|
|1991||John Arthur Wilson Memorial Lecturer – presented to the American Leather Chemists Association; lecture title: ‘Tannery Waste Minimisation’|
The Wilson and Procter lectures are the most prestigious awards in leather research internationally.
|2004-07||Chair, Australian Industry Group, Environment Working Group|
|1993-present||Member, International Union Leather Technologists & Chemists Environmental Commission|
|1992||Member, Murray Darling Basin Commission Technical Advisory Group|
|1991-present||President, The Leather Guild|
- Money CA, 2010, Personal communication.
- Catherine Money, interviewed by Tom Spurling and Terry Healy, 8 December 2021 (CSIRO Oral History Collection)
- Lee, T. (2022) The woman who changed the leather industry forever still working at age 82. ABC Landline, 12 February 2022.