Prof Anna Verster

(1931 - 1994)

Prof Anna Verster
 

Anna Verster was born on 16 November 1931 in Bethulie, Free State Province, South Africa. She was educated at Eunice Girls' High School and the University of The Orange Free State in Bloemfontein. After receiving her BSc and MSc degrees she accepted a research post in the Helminthology Division of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, and moved up the ranks to Chief Specialist Officer. During this time she paid an extended research visit to Switzerland, and was also a visiting professor in Brazil. In 1985 she was appointed senior lecturer at the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Pretoria, and was soon promoted to full professor. Ill health forced Prof Verster to retire at the end of July 1994; she died on 1 September, barely a month later.

 

Prof Verster's main research interest was cestodes. Her taxonomic revision of the genus Taenia, published in 1969, is regarded as a classic and is still being referred to today. This study formed the basis of her PhD work at the University of South Africa.

 

Prof Verster was a well-respected researcher, with worldwide contacts. She was invited to deliver a plenary paper on "Veterinary Education" at the biennial congress of the World Association for the Advancement of Parasitology in Cambridge, UK, in August 1993.

 

In recognition of her achievements, Prof Verster received the Senior Captain Scott Medal of the South African Biological Society, and the Elsdon-Dew Medal of PARSA (1992).

 

Anna Verster was a naturalist in every sense of the word. Her affinity for animals was demonstrated by the many wild animals that she "adopted" into her home. Her love for flora was legendary. It was not unusual to see her visitors arrive with leaves, flowers or seedpods in hand to be assisted in the identification of a plant species. Anna loved cooking and her hospitality had no bounds. Her door was always open, at work or at home, to lend a listening ear or be helped in any way that was needed.

 

Prof Anna Verster repeatedly expressed concern that financial constraints might prevent young South African parasitologists from studying abroad. Under the stipulations of her will, the Wilhelm Neitz Memorial Trust was created to assist South African nationals or permanent residents for post-graduate study in parasitology (not only in the veterinary field) at institutions abroad.

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© 2019 by Kerry Hadfield