The Cavill Lectures were established through a generous donation to the University of New South Wales by Emeritus Professor G. W. K. (Ken) Cavill. 

Professor Cavill was educated at the Universities of Sydney (B.Sc., M.Sc.) and Liverpool (Ph.D., D.Sc.). His connection with the University of New South Wales goes back to his appointment as a Lecturer at the Sydney Technical College in 1944.

After completing his Ph.D. as an ICI Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool (1947-1950), he returned to the University of New South Wales (known as the New South Wales University of Technology until 1958) as a Senior Lecturer (1951-1959), Associate Professor (1959-1964) and then Professor (Personal Chair, 1964-1980; Professor of Organic Chemistry, 1980-1982).

Professor Cavill's Personal Chair was the first awarded by the University of New South Wales. He also held visiting positions at Harvard (1958), University College, London (1963, 1970, 1977) and Cornell (1977). In 1969, Professor Cavill was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

Throughout his career Professor Cavill's research interests lay at the interface of chemistry and biology. Particularly his research focussed on the chemistry of insect venoms, and compounds with attractant and repellent properties. The latter initiated interdisciplinary studies on chemical communication in insects.

The Cavill Lectures aim to follow the broad tenor of Professor Cavill's research, with the lectureship to be awarded to someone distinguished in the field of biological organic chemistry.

Further, the lectureship targets those early in their career and aims to encourage rising stars carrying out interdisciplinary research in the areas of chemistry and biology.

The inaugural Cavill Lecture was presented in 2011 by Professor Masaki Kita, University of Tsukuba.

Barbara Messerle with Masaki Kita

A complete list of the previous Cavill Lecturers is given below.

  • 2011 - Professor Masaki Kita, University of Tsukuba, Japan
  • 2013 - Professor Kurt V. Gothelf, Aarhus University, Denmark.
  • 2015 - Professor Helen E. Blackwell, University of Wisconsin – Madison, USA
  • 2016 - Professor Véronique Gouverneur, University of Oxford, UK
  • 2019 - Professor William L. Jorgensen, Yale University, USA
Emeritus Professor G. W. K. Cavill. UNSW