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Dr. Surrey Jacobs,
Outstanding
Australian
Botanist,
Dies
     

"It is our sad duty to inform you that our colleague and friend Dr. Surrey Jacobs died today (November 26, 2009), at the untimely age of 63. Last Friday was officially Surrey's last day of duty but, as many know, he has been ill for about a year. This of course did not stop him coming to work one morning a week until recently, and he has also been working hard on the computer at home to wrap up his numerous research projects or to pass on materials to his collaborators to finish.

"Surrey did his PhD at the University of Sydney on 'Ecological studies on the genera Triodia and Plectrachne in Australia ', after doing a systematics Honours project on these grasses. He joined the Gardens’ staff as a systematic botanist in 1971 and has worked here ever since, being promoted to the highest level in the NSW Research Scientist scale – Senior Principal Research Scientist – last year.

"His going leaves a great hole in botanical expertise, both nationally and internationally, especially in water plants, grasses, chenopods and weeds. His broad interests in 'plant matters' led to him being involved in many wetlands and catchment advisory committees in New South Wales and elsewhere. Apart from his botanical expertise, many people here will miss having him around to offer sage and practical advice on a wide range of matters to them individually.


Surrey processing the DNA of a newly collected
Nymphaea gigantea in southern Queensland
Photo by Barre Hellquist - Click to enlarge
"A week ago, we presented him with a book of reminiscences and messages of appreciation, with individual contributions from over 50 colleagues and 'group' pages covering many others. Besides the individual contributions, we included extra photos, some of them showing his renowned prowess with chook-breeding, jam-making and room-cluttering. It's a marvelous tribute from many people to a very productive 40+ year career. Surrey's scientific legacy will continue to grow, as he and his collaborators around the world have a wide range of manuscripts at various stages of preparation/publication.
"We will be publishing a special issue of our systematics journal Telopea in Surrey's honour next year. It will include scientific papers by about 30 of his colleagues -- a fitting acknowledgement of an Australian botanist who has made an outstanding contribution to knowledge of the systematics, phylogeny and ecology of the world's water plants, grasses and chenopods."

Karen Wilson 
Special Botanist
Brett Summerell
Director SPP 
 
National Herbarium of New South Wales (NSW)    

Colleague and friend Dr. Barre Hellquist adds:

"Surrey named 11 species of Australian Nymphaea. Five of these are in a manuscript that has been accepted for publication in Telopea next year. We worked together on the Nymphaea throughout tropical Australia and together we named eight of those 11 new taxa*. Surrey also split the subgenus
Confluetes from Anecypha. His knowledge of the taxonomy, ecology, and distribution of Nymphaea in Australia will truly be missed. Don Les, Michael Moody and I plan to continue working on the waterlilies of Australia. There is still much to do. Surrey did not have any interest in man-induced waterlily hybrids, hence he never really showed much interest in the waterlily societies or clubs."

* See photos of three of these here.

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