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University mourns death of pre-eminent academic

30 May 2006

University mourns death of pre-eminent academic

The University of Canterbury is mourning the death of one of its most pre-eminent academics, Emeritus Professor David Lloyd.

Professor Lloyd, who had suffered ill health and multiple disabilities for a number of years, died this morning at the age of 68.

UC Vice-Chancellor, Professor Roy Sharp, says Professor Lloyd was one of the finest researchers the University has seen.

“That was reflected in 1992 when David became just the seventh New Zealander to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious scientific societies.

“You just need to look at the citation that accompanied the announcement of his fellowship. It said his exceptional knowledge of the flora of New Zealand had led him to conclusions that transformed the thinking of plant scientists around the world.”

The citation’s sentiment is reflected in an upcoming book by Professor Spencer Barrett (University of Toronto) and Dr Lawrence Harder (University of Calgary) who describe Professor Lloyd as a pre-eminent plant evolutionary biologist of the modern era.

“The extensive body of concepts that Lloyd developed through keen observation, incisive intellect and realistic theory established him as the founder of the theory of plant reproduction and comprise his enduring legacy,” they write.

“Lloyd pioneered the concept of plant gender and was the foremost authority of the evolution of plant sexual systems.

“Lloyd’s scholarly work laid the foundation for much of today’s research on the ecology and evolution of flowers, as well as several other fields of evolutionary biology.”

David Lloyd began study at the University of Canterbury in 1955 and graduated in 1959 with a BSc Honours degree, with first class honours in botany. He was the first graduate from any New Zealand university to gain first class honours in a BSc Honours degree.

He then studied at Harvard University on a Frank Knox Fellowship and graduated with a PhD in biology in 1964.

Three years later he was appointed a lecturer at Canterbury University. In 1971 he was promoted to senior lecturer, going on to become a reader in 1975 and professor of plant science in 1986.

David Lloyd grew up in the small South Taranaki town of Manaia.

His brother, Trevor Lloyd, says David was tenacious and determined from an early age.

“At secondary school in New Plymouth where he was a boarder David was an outstanding athlete and rugby football player despite having a less than average-sized physique. David played on the wing where he could best use his speed.

“In athletics he excelled in the 100 and 220 yard sprints and the long jump. This was just another expression of his determination and tenacity.”

David’s twin brother Peter, an emeritus professor of economics at Melbourne University, remembers his brother’s thirst for knowledge.

“As we grew up together, he had a great curiosity about the world around him. He developed a deep interest in the plant world and wanted to add to our knowledge of it, always seeking to develop theories to interpret his observations.”

Professor Lloyd is survived by his wife Linda Newstrom-Lloyd and his three adult children - Steven, Nicola and Paul.

Mrs Newstrom-Lloyd says aside from being an extraordinary scientist with many benchmark papers in evolutionary ecology and plant reproductive biology, her husband was a unique person with a pragmatic approach to life.

"David lived the past 13 years with cheerfulness and resiliency. In spite of his difficulties as a result of his injuries, he always made the most of what he had.

"We loved each other immensely and shared the belief that no matter what happens, the most important thing is how you approach it and what you do about it.”

Mrs Newstrom-Lloyd pays tribute to the medical personnel who cared for her husband over the past 13 years and thanks ACC for its assistance.

"David and I truly appreciated the expertise of the people caring for him at home. They all succeeded together as an exceptional team. I am extremely grateful for their dedication, understanding, and generosity."

Professor Lloyd’s daughter, Nicola, says it was their father’s botanical passion that introduced them to the world of science.

“We have memories from an early age of the combined family holiday with field research, of sitting in bogs looking for obscure plants.

“Through his work we had the opportunity to travel and experience life and living in other countries.”

Professor Lloyd’s son Steven says his father’s scientific outlook was mixed with a profound humanist spirit.

“His firm belief in equality, tolerance and capacity for difference in the wider cultural, political and social spheres, enriched us all. His non-judgemental approach gave us independence to grow and develop.

“David encouraged us to pursue our own passions. He always took a great deal of interest in what we were doing, embraced his grandchildren, and in turn wanted to learn from our experiences.”

Paul Lloyd says his father was an active parent who made a tremendous impact on their lives.

“He opened our eyes to the world. Through him we saw things and had experiences that shaped our thoughts and views. Most of all David provided us with his unconditional love. And, we loved him deeply.”


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