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At the onset of World War II, as a member of the Commonwealth panel he organized the Sydney contribution to optical munitions, producing anti-aircraft gun-sights and pioneering the work of reconditioning thousands of requisitioned binoculars.
A scholar in a community of scholars, Vonwiller used his knowledge of the classics with telling effect; his writings on historical figures, such as Newton and Galileo, showed freshness and independence; he understood, lectured on and debated the great themes of science, philosophy and religion; he was in the vanguard of those concerned with the social applications of science.
Assistant professor from 1913, Vonwiller published several articles on the electrical properties of solids: selenium, molybdenite and silicon.
During World War I he shouldered Pollock's duties, but was incapacitated by pneumonic influenza for months in 1919-20. On 1 January 1925 at St Stephen's Presbyterian Church, Sydney, he married a divorcee Elsie Isobel Bridges, née Whiteman.
Outside the BFI, she has written for various publications, mainly on the subject of horror cinema, which was the topic of her MA, and is currently doing a Ph D on British director Adrian Brunel.
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Retiring in 1946, Vonwiller lived at Kangaroo Valley, but continued to make contributions to science, to university life and to the Union Recorder. Mc Caughan, 'Vonwiller, Oscar Ulrich (1882–1972)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 12 January 2018.
He was promoted associate professor in 1921 and again took charge when Pollock died in office next year.
Appointed to the chair in 1923, Vonwiller completed the plans for the new physics building which opened in 1925.
Vonwiller gave of his services freely and headed the university union (1914-15), science society and rifle club.
He was foundation president of the Science Teachers' Association of New South Wales, president of the Royal Society of New South Wales (1930) and of section A, Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (1935), a member of the Physical Society, London, the British Astronomical Association and of the boards of visitors of Sydney Observatory (1930-61) and the Mount Stromlo Observatory, Canberra (1944-55), fellow of the Institute of Physics, London (1927) and the Australian Institute of Physics (1963), and treasurer of the Australian National Research Council (1934-40).
He had only three members of staff until 1938 and had to carry an increasing load as his subject rapidly advanced, particularly under the sway of quantum mechanics.