MIL OSI – Source: Massey University – ‘Remarkable’ professor retires after 45 years
Massey University’s longest serving academic, Professor of Animal Physiology Heather Simpson, has retired after 45 years on staff and more than 50 years at the university.
Professor Simpson started her PhD in 1965 when she also began demonstrating part-time. Her teaching roles have involved educating virtually every vet to have graduated from New Zealand since the course was first offered.
After completing her PhD, Professor Simpson continued to demonstrate part-time while also raising her two children. She then became a part-time lecturer in 1976, then a full-time senior lecturer in 1994, an associate professor in 2000 and was promoted to professorin 2007.
She has seen the veterinary degree grow over this time and says interests have changed.
“We started with about 30 students and now we are at over 100. People used to come in and say ‘I’m doing vet because I come from a sheep farm’ now they’re saying ‘I want to be a vet because of my love of my pony or cat’.”
She says her fondest memories are of meeting and getting to know students “especially in the smaller practical classes. Those classes were a lot of fun.” She has developed relationships with students from all over the world.
Professor Simpson has also served on numerous committees, including the University Research Committee and chaired the Palmerston North Research Committee. She was patron of the Veterinary Students Association, supervised 16 doctoral and 5 doctoral students and has more than 60 publications.
Her research has focussed on the biology of parasites found in the gut of sheep, an area she says is both an important health problem and interesting because it requires and understanding of “the relationship between two organisms and the struggle between them”.
Head of the Institute of Animal, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Professor Paul Kenyon says Professor Simpson has had a highly successful teaching and research career. “She has taught pretty much every Bachelor of Veterinary Science class since we started offering the degree. She is such an integral part of our team.”
Her husband, Dr Bruce Simpson, says he is extraordinarily proud of what his wife has achieved. “Biased as I might be, she is a remarkable women. Not only was did she love to mix with students, she worked with scientists across many disciplines.”
The previous longest-serving academic staff member was chemist Professor Sylvia Rumball, who had completed 42 years when she retired in 2009. College of Sciences Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Anderson also retired this week after 44 years with Massey.
Professor Simpson will continue to help her current PhD students and has an honorary position with AgResearch. However now she also has more time for her other interests: tending to her orchids, stamp and shell collections, and getting to the golf course more often.
“I have plenty of things to keep me occupied.”