Pavilion sunset
St Hilda's College
Our people

Dr Jane Mellanby

(Impey), MA DPhil, Hon FRCP


Dr Jane 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.

Memorial fund

St Hilda’s College has established a memorial fund in Dr Mellanby’s name that will receive gifts from her former students, colleagues, friends and family to benefit future generations of students.

Reflecting Jane and her husband Oliver Impey’s love of gardens, the first object of the fund was to commission two splendid curved oak benches named for Jane and Oliver. These are now in place and provide a new seating area in Hall Garden suitable for tutorials and for social gatherings. The balance of the funds collected and future donations will be used to support bursaries and Clinical Elective grants, in Jane’s name, to benefit final year students in Clinical Medicine who wish to undertake electives in places within the UK or abroad where healthcare resources may be limited.


Donate by Card

Donate by Direct Debit

Donations can be made here or by calling +44 (0)1865 276828. Please make cheques payable to St Hilda’s College, write on the back of the cheque ‘Dr Mellanby Memorial Fund’ and send it to the Development Office, St Hilda’s College, Oxford OX4 1DY.



  • Former Fellow


  • Psychology
Jane Mellanby