Sally joined the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney in 2002 and served as Head of School (2004-2011) and afterwards as Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Science. She was a world-renowned Professor of Cognitive Psychology and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. Sally completed her honours degree (1975) and PhD (1983) at UNSW, where she tutored and was a research scientist, before becoming a Lecturer in Psychology in 1984, and moving through the ranks to Associate Professor in 1996. She served as Head of Psychology at UNSW before being appointed Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Sydney in 2002.
Sally was long recognised as an international leader in the field of cognitive psychology, particularly in the area of reading and language processes. She was passionate about her specific research field and worked on questions in associated areas ranging from consciousness to applications in decision-making, aging and mental health. She was a deeply committed scientist who cared about getting things right. Her enthusiasm was infectious and inspiring for all who crossed her path. Sally was known for her commitment to getting to the core of an issue. Whether it be during her own presentation or whilst she observed others, her enjoyment of and respect for psychology was ever present. She was not just a colleague; she was also a beloved friend who gave many people frank and thoughtful advice which was universally valued.
Sally was a respected, influential, and excellent Head of School. It is hard to overestimate the transformative nature of her tenure. During her terms as Head of School she was fundamental in redefining The University of Sydney Department of Psychology into the research and teaching powerhouse that it is today. She had an incredibly high work ethic; continued face to face teaching and membership of the Australian Research Council’s College of Experts, cultivated an outstanding ARC funded research program herself, and still supervised dozens of PhD and Honours students. She motivated and inspired an entire generation of psychology academics at the University of Sydney and UNSW. She was known amongst staff and students as always being fair. This meant that she set very high academic expectations for herself, as well as those around her. Her academic work and influence were of the highest quality and her research contributions to her field will always be valued.
On a personal level Sally was well-esteemed and much loved amongst her colleagues, and was known for her sharp intellect, her inimitable style, and her great sense of humour. She is often described as a force of nature. She had the ability to mesmerise an audience and was truly a wonderful person.
Sally will be sorely missed by the many friends and colleagues who will remain grateful for the opportunity to have known her and we share our sadness with her extended family.