Boyce Worthley Oration

Boyce Worthley was one of Australia's most respected hospital physicists. For 40 years, from 1942, he provided medical physics advice and services to the Radiotherapy Department of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He was a first  rate physicist - creative, innovative and fiercely independent - and revolutionised treatment planning and dosimetry in Adelaide for X- and gamma-ray sources.

In 2004 it was nominated and supported that the former Adelaide hospital physicist B. W. Worthley, as the distinguished scientist to be memorialised in the title of the proposed annual ARPS Memorial Lecture. Since then at each of the ARPS national conference a section of the conference has been dedicated to the Boyce Worthley Oration.

Boyce Worthley



Talk name


19th TBD
Assoc. Prof. Lee Collins AM 
18th Radiation detection for radiation protection 
Dr Riaz Akber



Optimisation – Risk Management in Theory and Practice

Dr. Carl-Magnus Larsson







A controversy that needs to be resolved

Dr. Donald James Higson



Prudence and conservatisam in radiation protection

Roger Coates



A Radiation Protection View of Australia and ARPS:  A View from Across the Pond with Some Insights for Discussions

George Anastas



Operating Uranium Mines

Sharon Paulka



With ARPS turning 40, do we need to look back? Will the lessons of the past still have a place in the future?

Paul Cardew



‘Drawing the line’: A risk communication perspective

Professor Rodney Croft



A Physicist's History of Mining of Uranium and other Radioactive Ores in Australia

Mark Sonter



The Early History and Subsequent Highlights of the ARPS

Dr. Ronald Rosen, OAM



The evolution of the system of radiation protection

Peter Anothony Burns



More Radiation for Better Health? (Deliberations of a Medical Physicist)

Professor Eva Bezak



People involved in radiation research and protection - An historical perspective

Bill Toussaint



The Environmental Legacy of Nuclear Weapon Development and Cleaning Up

Dr. Keith Henry Lokan, PSM



The control and minimisation of exposures to ionising radiation
David Alexander Woods



The seven ages of health physics

Rob Robotham



Caging the Tiger

Raymond Joseph De Groot



The early years of hospital physics in Adelaide: Some recollections

Robert Mason Fry, AM

Boyce Wilson Worthley

Boyce Wilson Worthley (1917-1987) was a highly respected hospital physicist in Australia known for his significant contributions to medical physics. He dedicated 40 years of his career, starting in 1942, to providing medical physics advice and services to the Radiotherapy Department of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Worthley was recognized as a first-rate physicist, characterized by his creativity, innovation, and fierce independence. He played a crucial role in revolutionizing treatment planning and dosimetry for X-ray and gamma-ray sources in Adelaide.

In 2004, Worthley was nominated and supported as the distinguished scientist to be memorialized in the title of the proposed annual ARPS (Australian Radiation Protection Society) Memorial Lecture. Since then, a section of each ARPS national conference has been dedicated to the Boyce Worthley Oration.

Early Life and Education:

Boyce Wilson Worthley was born on March 3, 1917, in North Adelaide, Australia. He completed his education at Adelaide High School, Adelaide Teachers' College, and the University of Adelaide. At the university, he achieved first-class honors in physics and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in 1939, followed by a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1941. He later earned a Master of Science degree in 1944. On May 10, 1941, he married Marjorie Ruth Grant, a teacher, at Malvern Methodist Church in Adelaide.

Career and Contributions:

After a brief period as a teacher in South Australia and a physicist at the Commonwealth X-ray and Radium Laboratory in Melbourne, Worthley was appointed as a physicist to the University of Adelaide's Anti-Cancer Campaign Committee (later the Anti-Cancer Foundation) in 1942. His early work involved dose calibration of therapy X-ray machines in Adelaide and the extraction of radon gas from a radium source for use in tumor implantation. He also established South Australia's first radiation protection and monitoring service.

Worthley expanded his team of physicists from 1949 onwards. Under his leadership, the ACF (Anti-Cancer Foundation) Physics Section, located in the Royal Adelaide Hospital, developed comprehensive medical physics roles in cancer treatment and the early application of reactor-produced radionuclides in diagnostic nuclear medicine. In the 1950s, he and his colleagues constructed a primary standard free-air-chamber and electrometer system, as well as an analogue dosimetry computer in 1952. These advancements facilitated the establishment of radiation dosimetry standards and accurate computation of dose, providing a foundation for radiotherapy. The group developed primary and secondary standard dosimetry systems catering to various radiotherapy applications, including X-ray and electron beams across different energy ranges. Worthley's team was also responsible for commissioning, calibrating, and maintaining the linear accelerator radiotherapy machines that produced high-energy beams.

One of Worthley's notable strengths was his intuitive ability to analyze measured data and derive empirical formulae for computing doses in clinical practice. Access to mainframe digital computers in the 1960s enabled him to make substantial contributions in computing, particularly in the field of radiotherapy. He and his staff developed software programs based on his empirical formulae for a wide range of radiotherapy applications, including early forays into three-dimensional treatment planning with pre-CT scanning. Worthley published over forty papers and co-authored the book "Dosage Estimation in Radiotherapy and the Wheatley Integrator" with J. Tooze and R. M. Fry in 1955.

Worthley actively promoted the profession of physical sciences in medicine. In 1961, he was a founding member of the Australian Association of Physical Scientists in Medicine (AAPSM), which later became the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM). He served as the Vice-President of the AAPSM from 1961 to 1962 and President from 1963 to 1964. Worthley played a vital role in advancing the professional status and recognition of medical physicists in Australia.

As an esteemed educator, Worthley contributed significantly to the training and mentoring of numerous medical physicists. He supervised several postgraduate students and provided them with practical training in clinical radiotherapy and medical physics. His commitment to education and professional development was evident in his role as an honorary lecturer in medical physics at the University of Adelaide.

Worthley's contributions extended beyond the field of medical physics. He actively participated in national and international conferences and held memberships in various professional organizations, including the International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements (ICRU) and the International Society of Radiology (ISR).

Boyce Worthley's impact on the field of medical physics and radiation oncology in Australia cannot be overstated. His pioneering work in treatment planning, dosimetry, and radiation safety laid the foundation for modern radiotherapy practices. Worthley's innovative approaches and dedication to improving patient care have had a lasting influence on the field. His legacy continues to inspire and guide current and future generations of medical physicists in their pursuit of excellence.

Boyce Wilson Worthley passed away on November 23, 1987, leaving behind a remarkable legacy of scientific achievements and a lasting impact on the field of medical physics in Australia.

Job vacancies

Upcoming events

Webmaster Matthew Wiggins

 Copyright © ARPS 2021