Joanna at her BA (Hons) graduation ceremony in 2008.
Joanna at her BA (Hons) graduation ceremony in 2008.
11 December 2014

Remarkable dedication and devoted family support led to the awarding of a special post-graduate degree at the University of Queensland today.

Joanna Timms was posthumously awarded a Master of Philosophy.

She died of cancer in early 2011 while part-way through her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program.

Her mother, Pam Timms, accepted the degree on Joanna’s behalf after her thesis was passed this year.

“Shortly before she died, Joanna asked me if I could complete her thesis for her and, although I was unable to promise that I could finish her PhD, I was able to compile enough of her information to enable her to achieve the award of MPhil (Master of Philosophy),” Mrs Timms said.

Despite being diagnosed with an aggressive form of metastatic melanoma in 2009, Joanna travelled to London in the final months of her life to examine psychical research and interwar popular culture in Britain as part of her PhD.

She endured major operations, chemotherapy and a gruelling drug trial, but was still able to complete two academic articles that were published posthumously in the respected academic journals History Workshop Journal (OUP) and Psychoanalysis and History.

Her father, Jack Timms, said Joanna was a gifted woman who showed courage, grace and determination under difficult circumstances.

“It brought comfort when, just weeks before she died, Joanna received word that the first of her articles would be published,” Mr Timms said.

“We are extremely proud of her, and this award today is very special,” he said.

UQ School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics senior lecturer in history Dr Geoff Ginn said Joanna was held in great esteem by her fellow students and advisors.

“Her contribution and her participation in the scholarly community are remembered with deep respect through this award,” Dr Ginn said.

Birkbeck College University of London Professor of History Daniel Pick, worked with Joanna in the UK and was impressed by her courage, dignity and fortitude.

“Joanna’s commitment to her research and her very lively interest in life and above all, in the life of the mind, was remarkable,” Professor Pick said.

“She was a promising young historian whose specialty lay in the history of ideas about ghosts, psychical research and the uncanny – a part of her wider interest in late 19th and 20th century culture.

With two degrees by the age of 22, Joanna was, according to Mrs Timms, “ahead of her time”.

She studied journalism at The University of Queensland and later gained a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in History before beginning her PhD program in 2009.

Media: UQ Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Kristen Johnston, 3346 1633,