Professor Mary Hallaway: The Mother of Biochemistry at ABU Zaria

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Professor Hester Mary Hallaway is a renowned Biochemist, researcher, academic and educational Administrator who taught across several Universities around the world including Ahmadu Bello University.

Dr Mary Hallaway was born at Rickerby near Carlisle in 1932. After her secondary education at the convent of the secret heart, Woldingham, Surrey, she went up to St Anne’s Oxford University to read Biochemistry.

Upon the completion of her Doctorate in1952, she became an assistant lecturer at St Anne’s and departmental demonstrator

Dr. Mary Hallaway
Dr. Mary Hallaway

In 1962, Dr Hallaway took up an appointment as a lecturer at the University of Liverpool where she taught until she left in 1969 to join the services of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria where she was saddled with the Responsibility of Building a vibrant department of Biochemistry.

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Here in ABU as a Reader, she successfully established the Department of Biochemistry and subsequently became its first professor and first HOD serving from 1976 – 1980.

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After her tasked at ABU, Professor Mary Hallaway returned back to England to take up an appointment as the principal of Trinity and All Saints College in Leeds following the retirement of Andrew Kean and Sister Augusta Maria retired in 1980.

After serving the college for nine years and properly establishing the institution, Professor Hallaway resigned her position as Principal of Trinity and all Saints College in 1989 and returned back to Africa.

She served at Makerere University in Uganda where she also built a Department of Biochemistry. She left Uganda in 1994 for the College of Medicine at the University of Malawi, Blantyre where she served until her retirement.

Professor Mary Hallaway Contributions to Biochemistry in Nigeria

Dr. H. Mary Hallaway during her time at ABU Zaria organized a series of workshops in conjunction with the Biochemistry section of the Science Association of Nigeria (SAN) to advance the course of the biochemistry in Nigeria.

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The Workshops had far-reaching and beneficial effects on biochemical education in Nigeria defined the place of biochemists in the development of the country, and significantly shaped the way biochemistry is studied in Nigeria today.

In one of such workshops which held in December 1975 at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria on the topic “Biochemical Education in Nigeria”, and which The International Union of Biochemistry supported by sending Dr. Bernard Kllby (Editor of Biochemical Education),

The experts reviewed the content and methods of teaching undergraduates and postgraduate courses in Biochemistry in Nigeria, including courses for future biochemists and courses for other groups: Medical, Veterinary and Pharmacy students etc.

She was always of the opinion that to be able to properly teach and impact on the nation, Biochemist in Africa most consider biochemical education in the light of national needs, the background of students and the resources in the various departments.

While at ABU, she was very popular among her peers in the West Africa subregion. She efficiently linked her young Biochemistry Department with other biochemistry departments and faculties of science throughout the region.

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Her Honors

At Leeds Trinity University, the Mary Hallaway Lecture Theatre in the Main Building is named after her. The Mary Hallaway Teaching Laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria is also named After.

Mary Hallaway Lecture Theatre
Mary Hallaway Lecture Theatre.

Professor Mary Hallaway was award an Honorary Fellowships by Leeds Trinity University alongside Ian Dawson, Sister Marie de Carmel, the first Principal of Trinity College in 1966, and Dr. Mike Coughlan in 2017. She holds the British honor of Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Professor Hester Mary Hallaway retired from the University of Malawi and returned back to England.

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