Don Beer Memorial Lecture 2023 - Jo White, ‘From little things big things grow’

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Thursday, 19 October 2023 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Jo White, Director Questacon 2022-11-03
Jo White, Director Questacon 2022-11-03

Jo, Director of Questacon, will give insights about her journey; her time leading Science Education and Conservation at the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust including the National Herbarium of NSW, Australian PlantBank, and establishing the Education and Engagement Centre; plus Questacon’s journey and reconciliation actions.


Science and conservation leader Jo White was appointed as the new Director of Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre in 2022. Jo commenced on 1 November 2022 and has been working to secure the future of Questacon, with the Government announcing additional funding of $60 million in the May budget. She is leading new strategic planning and critical property, digital and exhibition upgrades. 

Prior to joining Questacon she was the Director of Science, Education and Conservation at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. There she led the National Herbarium of NSW, the Australian PlantBank, and Education and Engagement Centre at the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Centre comprised more than 100 staff, 400 volunteers and $330 million worth of collection assets.

Lunchtime talks are held at 12.30 pm every Thursday from February to November. Talks last for 1 hour. We welcome donations by gold coins, notes, or electronically. The Friends use donations received at each talk to support Gardens’ programs and development, and thank all those who have donated. 

Unless otherwise indicated, talks are held in the ANBG Theatrette.

It is a good idea to reserve a seat at the talks that you wish to attend; talks may be booked out very quickly. Bookings can be made until the night before the talk or until seating limits are reached. 

Booking Link:

The Friends of the ANBG thank the speakers who volunteer their time and talents to further the knowledge of all attending events in the Gardens. Some summaries or PowerPoint presentations of Thursday talks are available to Friends at the ANBG library. Please direct queries about the talks to the Thursday Talks Team: email

The talks are in line with COVID-19 guidelines, which can change rapidly.

The Don Beer Memorial Lecture

Donald Beer 1940-2022Don Beer (1940-2022) was one of the first 'Canadian Commonwealth Scholars' from Australia and New Zealand in 1961. After graduating in History from the University of Adelaide, SA, he studied at Queen's University and the University of Toronto, Canada, before taking up a lectureship at the University of New England (UNE), Armidale, NSW, Australia, in 1964. He was an Associate Professor and retired from the University in from January 1999.

Upon retirement from the University of New England he moved to Canberra and became a very active member of the Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, (ANBG). He served as a Friends Council Member, and was Convenor of the Gardens' Volunteer Guides. More recently he devoted some thousands of hours researching the history of the Gardens, culminating in the publication in 2020 of the 330 page book: 'Miracle on Black Mountain - A History of The Australian National Botanic Gardens'.

The Friends of the ANBG are holding an annual Don Beer Memorial Lecture for 5 years as a way of appreciating his significant contribution to the Friends. His family is also contributing to a Don Beer scholarship.