nee: Stella A. Pearce|
born: 2 November 1933, Stockton, Wiltshire, UK.
to: Evelyn and Wilfred George Pearce
died: 22 November 2007, Melbourne
Education: St Hilda's College, Oxford, UK.
Fellow : St. Anne's College, Oxford.
Stella was born to a modest family in rural England. Her father was a thatcher by trade. At school, she enjoyed tennis, and excelled at zoology, botany and chemistry. She became Head Prefect at South Wiltshire Grammar School and won an Open Scholarship to St. Hilda's College Oxford to study biology. There she gained a First Class Honours degree. She went on to study under the Nobel Laureate Niko Tinbergen to gain her doctorate, studying how genetics affected behaviour. She chose as her test candidates the Fruit Flies: Drosophila species. They have the advantage of having a generation time of less than two weeks, making it feasible to study changes of behaviour over many generations in a relatively short period. Drosophila also have a variety of complex courtship displays that were readily observable under a microscope. On completion of her doctorate she became a Fellow of St Anne's College Oxford.
In 1969 she moved to Australia, becoming a Lecturer in the Psychology Department at Monash University. She advanced up the academic ladder, intermittently acting as Head of the Psychology Department, and Associate-Dean of the Science Faculty there, being accorded the title of Professor and later Emeritus Professor.
She worked hard for the status of women in the university, and was Chair of the Affirmative Action Coordinating Committee at Monash.
Throughout her life, she was in wonder at the complexity of the natural world, not just its physical attributes, but how animals (including humans) behave and how their behaviour develops.
On moving to Australia, she was struck by the extraordinary flora and fauna of the country. She coauthored a book in manuscript on the caterpillars that she found in her garden in suburban Melbourne, and circulated it at great length through all the local publishers, but none were interested in a book on caterpillars at that time (ca 1985). That manuscript became the basis of a website she co-developed on the biology of Australian Lepidoptera, which currently covers over 4,000 species.
She contracted Multiple Sclerosis in 1975, but did not retire from full-time academia until 1997. Even then she continued teaching and fostering postgraduate students up to a few weeks before her death.
Stella Crossley Prize
For the student who achieves the highest aggregate mark for the second year psychology core subects, Monash University.
MS Society of Victoria
Anneli Hoikkala, Stella Crossley, & Claudia Castillo-Melendez
Copulatory Courtship in Drosophila birchii and D. serrata, Species Recognition and Sexual Selection,
Journal of Insect Behavior, Volume 13, Number 3 (May 2000), pp. 361-373.
Lorraine J. Brown & Stella A. Crossley,
Delayed children's social interactions: Focus for intervention
Australian Journal of Early Childhood, Volume 25, Issue 4 (December 2000).
(updated 3 September 2023)