Born in England in 1920, Tony Beecham came with his family to Australia in 1927. He served with the Australian Imperial Force in the Middle East in the Second World War. In 1950 he graduated with honours in chemistry from Adelaide University.
In January 1951, he joined the Chemical Physics Section of the Division of Chemistry.
An organic chemist originally concerned with peptide synthesis and conformation, his interest subsequently focused on the technique of optical rotatory dispersion in relation to structure and absolute configuration, particularly of natural products. He attained a deep insight in to the value of ORD and CD spectra for many aspects of chemistry, contributing significantly to the literature on that subject. His concern with the fundamental interpretation of circular dichroic (CD) spectra, particularly of steroidal compounds with an enone function led, latterly, to a fundamental re-assessment of hydrogen bonding in such compounds and of the basic mechanism of hydrogen bonding in general. He had an incisive appreciation of experimental observation and would only publish when fully satisfied of all aspects of the interpretation of the facts.
At the time of his death, Tony was a Senior Principal Research Scientist with the Division.
Adapted from a submission to CoResearch, CSIRO’s staff newsletter (no. 253, July 1982), p. 2