USC GRADUATION: Vice Chancellor professor Greg Hill and Vernon Harris, right.
USC GRADUATION: Vice Chancellor professor Greg Hill and Vernon Harris, right. Cody Fox

Pioneering Bay scientist honoured at 93

WORKING from the bedroom of his retirement villa, Dr Vernon Harris continues to change what we know about marine life.

The 93-year-old Hervey Bay zoologist has discovered more than 40 new species of copepods, a marine species previously unknown to science, that he collected from New Zealand, Japan and Australia - including some from waters around Hervey Bay.

Dr Harris stood alongside fellow students, some of whom were a quarter his age, as he accepted his latest academic honour at USC's graduation ceremony on Wednesday.

As graduates donned their caps and gowns, Dr Harris accepted his position as an Honorary Science Fellow of the university.

USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said Dr Harris received the honorary title in recognition of his commitment to scientific discovery and his willingness to encourage a new generation of learners.

"Dr Harris is an inspiration and mentor to Fraser Coast-based scientists and academics,” Professor Hill said.

"Nursing Science students at USC Fraser Coast are also the beneficiaries of his strong belief in education.”

Three years ago, Dr Harris established the first donor-supported award for USC's Fraser Coast campus through a $10,000 donation in honour of his late wife Lucy and her long, distinguished international career as a nurse.

Each year, the Lucy Harris Bursary supports two Nursing Science students on clinical placement in rural or remote communities.

Considered the world's leading expert on copepods, Dr Harris continues to contribute to global understanding of the tiny, translucent marine invertebrates.

He still prepares manuscripts for publication in international academic journals and is currently writing a book on copepods for the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.