Our Emeritus Fellow Dr Jane Mellanby, Hon FRCP, has died.

10th February 2021

We were deeply saddened to learn of the death on 8 February of our Emeritus Fellow Dr Jane Mellanby, Hon FRCP.

Dr Mellanby came to St Hilda's as a Lecturer in 1965. She became a Supernumerary Fellow in 1971 and Official Fellow in Experimental Psychology in 1977, a position she held until her retirement in 2006. Having read for the BA in Physiology at Somerville College (1956-59), she moved to the Biochemistry lab of Hans Krebs, completing a highly-rated DPhil on ketone body production under Krebs' supervision (1962). Postdoctoral research in Clostridial toxins in the laboratory of W E van Heyningen at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology followed; her research on the mode of action of tetanus toxin was highly influential. In 1970, with the help and encouragement of Professor Larry Weiskrantz, Dr Mellanby set up a Neurochemistry unit in the new Experimental Psychology building in Oxford in order to facilitate collaboration with psychologists. Her own work involved the investigation of physiological and behavioural changes in an experimental model of temporal lobe epilepsy.

In the 1990s, her interest piqued by a period as a governor of a local comprehensive school, Dr Mellanby embarked on new research into educational achievement in secondary school children and university students. She was actively involved in the development of the verbal and spatial reasoning test for children (VESPARCH) which enables the identification of those who may be performing below their reasoning potential and investigative follow-up. This research formed the basis of her book, co-authored with Katy Theobald, Education and Learning: An Evidence–based Approach (Wiley Blackwell, 2014). Her work on the 'gender gap' at Finals in Oxford (the differential achievement of male and female undergraduates in Finals examinations despite no difference between the sexes in measured intelligence) remains definitive, if not conclusive. In 2016 she was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in recognition of her work in training doctors over a period of forty years in her role as a tutor at St Hilda's.

Dr Mellanby was equally influential in her shaping of St Hilda's, being, amongst many other activities, one of the forces behind the project to build the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building. She was a two-term Vice-Principal to Principal Elizabeth Llewellyn-Smith from 1990-1996. She and her husband, Oliver Impey, raised the funds and investigated the technical means to transform a former piano practice room in the Milham Ford Building into our College Chapel at the millennium.

We are mindful of the tangible and intangible legacies she has left us and remember Dr Mellanby's life and achievements with gratitude. Our thoughts are with her friends and family at this time.