BA(Hons), PhD (UNSW)
(Deceased)
Psychology
1998

Obituary

Sally Andrews died in Sydney on 4 May 2022 after a brief battle with cancer. She received a First Class Honours Degree in Psychology (1984) and her PhD (1983) at UNSW where she tutored and was a research scientist, before being appointed as Lecturer in Psychology in 1984, promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1990, and Associate Professor in 1996. She was the Head of School at UNSW between 1999 and late 2001 where she demonstrated strong leadership, engendering respect from all students and staff. 

She was appointed Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Sydney in 2002, and was Head of its School from 2005 to 2011. Her influence on the School was transformative, leading by example in both teaching and research, setting high expectations for herself and others, but in a supportive and fair way, while also demonstrating her intellectual curiosity and strength. After 2011, Sally continued to mentor the next generation of leadership in the School, and took on the role of Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Science. She retired in 2020 but continued active research, research supervision and teaching in the school, albeit virtually because of Covid-19. Over the decades she supervised many research students in her own area, and related fields both at UNSW and the University of Sydney, mentored many others, including staff, and was a champion for women. Sally was a deeply committed scientist who was able to get to the core of issues even when they were far removed from her area of expertise. She was an inspirational leader to many generations of psychologists. 

Sally’s research was based on cognitive psychology but integrated theories and methods from computer science, philosophy and neuroscience, the fields that define cognitive science. She used a variety of methodologies to investigate the architecture of the reading system and the relationship between written language processing and other cognitive skills such as object identification and mathematical modelling. Her research has explored individual differences in skilled readers, using state-of-the art techniques to provide a window into the very early stages of visual word recognition, and most recently perceptual span and parafoveal processing in older readers. In her research she sought to understand lexical processing and its relationship to reading skill, primarily in English, but has investigated other languages in collaboration with other researchers. Although Sally’s primary focus and interest was in lexical processing and reading, she also obtained research grants and published in applied areas of cognitive psychology such as clinical and neuropsychology, decision-making and training of firefighters. 

Sally published widely in top international journals, presented at many international and local conferences, and was a regular recipient of Australian Research Council funding for her work. She served on the ARC Behavioural Science Panel in the early part of this century, was an active re-viewer of grants before and after this, and supported psychology throughout Australia through re-views of schools, participation on selection panels, and encouraging researchers in cognitive psychology wherever it occurred.

Sally will be sorely missed by her many colleagues and students, and her friends and family, especially her son, Tom Brandon, her father, Peter Andrews, and her brother, Michael Andrews.

Written by Professor Beryl Hesketh, Professor Anne Castles and Professor Andrew Neal

  • Head, School of Psychology, UNSW (1998-01)
  • Board member, National Institute of Dramatic Art (1998-01)
  • Member, Division of Science, Professional Development Approval and Accreditation Group, Australian Psychological Society (2001-)
  • Member, Psychonomics Society, USA
  • Editorial Boards: Journal of Memory and Language
  • Memory and Cognition; Member Australian Research Council Expert Advisory Committee, Social Behavioural and Economic Sciences (2003-2005).