102-year-old scientist wins right to keep his day job on Australian campus

There had been safety concerns surrounding the centenarian's continued presence...

102-year-old scientist wins right to keep his day job on Australian campus

David Goodall. Photo: ecu.edu.au

Australia's oldest scientist has won the right to keep an office at Edith Cowan University (ECU) after he had been informed that he would have to continue his work from home in 2017.

The university said that it was concerned about ecologist Dr David Goodall's "general wellbeing on campus", considering the situation to be a "safety risk".

Dr Goodall has an unpaid position as an honorary research associate but generally spends four days every week on campus, reviewing papers and supervising doctoral students.

To get there and home, he faces a 90-minute commute with up to five changes on public transport.

A public outcry following the decision in August has now lead ECU to review their position. It will renew his position this month for three years and has found an office for him at a second campus that is close to support staff and should could his commuting time in half.

Speaking to ABC News, the university's vice-chancellor Professor Steve Chapman said:

"It's better in many ways. First of all it's closer to his residence and it's easier for him to commute. Secondly, there's an office very close that's manned all the time so we will be able to keep an eye on him that he's okay. Thirdly, he's agreed to inform us when he comes in so that if he didn't arrive we could check what happened."

Dr Goodall did not share Professor Chapman's level of enthusiasm but said that, given that he had to move, it was a "satisfactory" resolution:

"I prefer to be on campus because there are other people around and people who potentially are friends.

"I hope to continue with some useful work in my field in so far as my eyesight permits. But I still think the emphasis on safety was unnecessary."

Dr Goodall was born in London in 1914 and officially retired over 35 years ago. He has been made a member of the Order of Australia and authored over 100 research publications in his time. He has said not drinking, giving up smoking "many years ago" and making an effort to keep the mind and body active have contributed to his longevity.