Mycology expert and first woman member of the Public Service Commission
Botanist Gloria Lim, who is an expert on fungi, chalked up several firsts in her career. In 1973, she was named Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Singapore, the first woman to fill the position. She was dean for four years, and again for a year from 1979 to 1980.
In 1985, when the University of Singapore had become the National University of Singapore, she was the first woman to head the Department of Botany. She held that position until her retirement from NUS in 1991. She was also a fellow of Eusoff College and, subsequently, Eusoff Hall, from 1961 to 1991.
Professor Lim was then appointed first Foundation Director at the National Institute of Education (NIE) when it was set up 1991. Earlier, in 1982, she was the first woman to be appointed to the Public Service Commission (PSC), which oversees the appointment and promotion of senior civil servants. She remained a PSC member until 1996.
Gloria graduated from the University of Singapore in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours - Botany). She then went on to obtain a Diploma in Education in 1956, and a Master of Science from the University of Malaya in 1957. She received her PhD from the University of London in 1961. She was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1966 to 1967. In 1999, she was conferred an Honorary DSc by the University of Loughborough.
When she was head of the Botany Department, Gloria was very active in promoting the study of certain fungi that were not considered, at that time, to be of much importance. The many publications written by her about these fungi are still used as references.
Author of some 140 papers and chapters in books on mycology, also known as fungal biology, Gloria served on the editorial boards of several international journals. She also served as a member of Singapore Science Council, Singapore Science Centre Board and National Parks Board. In 1993, Gloria was awarded the Public Service Star for her contributions to the Public Service Commission. She was awarded the title of Distinguished Science Alumni in 2005 by the National University of Singapore.
"Where there is an open mind
There will always be a frontier
Ideas are funny little things
They won’t work unless you do."