Tui or Parson Bird Prosthemadera Novae Zealandiae. From: 'A history of the birds of New Zealand' by Walter Lawry Buller
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Botany: Our Heritage, Our Future. A Celebration of Teaching and Research at the University of Otago. Online Exhibition

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Botany is a 21st century subject built on a rich heritage contributed to and developed by many. Although botany was taught at the University of Otago from the outset, it was in 1924 that the Botany Department was established, with the appointment of Dr J. E. Holloway. From his one ‘all-purpose’ room Holloway instructed others in the subject that involves the scientific study of plant life. After Holloway’s retirement in 1944, a number of dedicated staff kept the department functioning until 1946 when Geoff Baylis arrived as Head of the Department (HoD). He became the first Professor of Botany in 1952. Baylis was replaced by Professor Peter Bannister in 1979, who was HoD until 2003, when Associate Professor Paul Guy took over. Professor Bastow Wilson replaced Guy as HoD in 2008. Professor Jim Simpson became HoD in 2010, and Professor Katharine Dickinson in 2011.

Since 1924, students have been exposed to all aspects of the life of plants, algae, fungi, and other closely related organisms. Today’s student engages in a subject that is now multidisciplinary, covering the gene to the ecosystem, and from the mountains to the sea. Of course the Department’s achievements are due to all staff: the technicians, the administrators, and the academics, and each have contributed greatly to the excellence in teaching and research that has been afforded to students, and more broadly to the general public, over many years. The Department is also very appreciative of the significant contributions made by its Emeritus and Honorary Professors, and other research associates.

This exhibition celebrates the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Botany Department at the University of Otago, which remains the only university Department of Botany in New Zealand. The Department is very proud of its heritage, and in looking ahead, considers Botany to be essential to society’s needs more than ever. Indeed, knowledge about plants is fundamental to our survival.

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