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International Society for Infectious Diseases <>

Date: Sun 19 Apr 2009

From: Gert J Venter <>

Jane Brotherton Walker (expert acarologist), 1925-2009


Jane Brotherton Walker was born in Nairobi, Kenya on 31 Jan 1925. As a child growing up on a farm in Kenya Jane was home-schooled by her mother during her primary school years, and then went to England where she matriculated in 1944 at the County High School for Girls in Retford. Jane obtained BSc (Honours) and MSc degrees at Liverpool University in 1948 and 1959, and was awarded a DSc degree on her published works by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in 1983.

Jane was first employed in 1949 in the Research Branch of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service as a research officer in the East African Veterinary Research Organization, Muguga, Kenya. She progressed in this organization to senior scientific officer and then principal scientific officer, before voluntarily retiring from Her Majesty's Service in 1966 to take up a post as senior professional officer at the Veterinary Research Institute, Onderstepoort, upon the retirement of Dr Gertrud Theiler. There, Jane spent the rest of her working life. At the Institute she progressed through the ranks of promotion to chief professional officer, chief veterinary researcher, and specialist scientist until her retirement on pension in 1990. After retirement she continued to work at Onderstepoort in an honorary capacity for 3 days a week until 1998. During her working life and even after her retirement Jane was sole, senior, or co-author of 53 scientific publications and 5 books (inter alia, The _Rhipicephalus_ species ticks of the World, 2000) and the descriptions of 18 new tick species. She illustrated many of the ticks that she described with meticulously executed line drawings.

Jane's prowess as a scientist was recognized by her peers and she received

3 of the most prestigious awards in the field of biological sciences in South Africa, namely the 1988 Elsdon-Dew Medal of the Parasitological Society of Southern Africa, for services rendered to Parasitology in Africa, the Agricultural Science and Technology Woman of the Year Award for 1998, and the Theiler Memorial Trust Award in 1998 for exceptional service rendered to Veterinary Science in Africa. Her scientific writing skills were soon recognized at Onderstepoort and she was a member of the Editorial Committee of the Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research from 1969 until 2000, a function she performed punctiliously to the dismay, as well as to the advantage of many a sloppy author.

With Jane's death the scientific world has lost one of its most meticulous and experienced workers, and the field of tick taxonomy, particularly in Africa, will be infinitely poorer. Her friends have lost a true lady and a loyal friend.

Jane died peacefully at home in Pretoria on Friday morning 3 Apr 2009 while having tea with Ivan Horak.

[byline: Ivan G Horak]

- --Gert J Venter, Senior Researcher, PVVD, Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute Agricultural Research Council South Africa <> <>