A. Murray Fallis
Dr. Fallis was born on January 6, 1907, in Harriston, Ontario, where he received his elementary school education. Subsequently, he attended teachers’ college and taught for two years before enrolling at the University of Toronto where he received an honours B.A. He was awarded his doctorate in 1933 based on a study of parasites of lambs.
Following graduation, Murray accepted a fellowship at the Ontario Research Foundation where he continued his research on various helminth parasites. In 1947 he moved to the School of Hygiene, and one year later was appointed Head of the newly formed Department of Parasitology. Dr. Fallis and other members of his faculty, including Ray Freeman, Susan McIver, Ken Wright and Sherwin Desser, were cross appointed to the Department of Zoology in which their graduate students were registered. Murray established an undergraduate and a graduate scholarship for zoology students engaged in research on parasitic organisms.
Under his inspired leadership parasitology flourished at the University. Together with faculty and students, Murray conducted pioneering research on the biology of parasites of wildlife. He and Dr. Freeman taught medical parasitology at the School of Hygiene.
For almost 30 years, Murray and his graduate students studied the blood parasites of birds at the Wildlife Research Station Algonquin Park, Ontario. They discovered the role of ornithophilic simuliids and ceratopogonids in the transmission of Leucocytozoon and Haemoproteus species to birds and elucidated the development and pathogenesis of these parasites in their avian hosts and arthropod vectors. Other studies were directed towards the behaviour of these biting flies and their role in the transmission of an avian trypanosolomes and the filarial worms of amphibians. Murray’s research took him to Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Israel, Iran, New Zealand, Norway and Africa.
Dr. Fallis was thoughtful, caring, and generous, an inspiring mentor, who instilled in his students not only the fascination of research, but the value of leading moral and ethnical lives. He derived much satisfaction watching his students supervise their own, and lived long enough to meet his academic grandchildren, who are continuing his legacy.
Following his retirement in 1972, Dr. Fallis continued to pursue his interest in the history of parasitology in Canada. He wrote several articles and his book, Parasites, People and Progress – Historical Recollections, was published in 1993.
Murray received many honours and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1958 in recognition of his achievements in research and education. He served as president of the Royal Canadian Institute, President of the Ontario Society of Biologists, Vice President (1970) and President (1979) of the American Society of Parasitologists, and President of the Fifth International Congress of Parasitology (1982). Murray also served the University of Toronto with distinction, as Associate Dean of the Graduate School and a member of the Governing Council.
Murray was a man of many interests and he retained his active lifestyle in retirement. In addition to his historical research and writing, he crafted fine wooden toys for his grandchildren and refinished old furniture that he enjoyed purchasing at country auctions. As well, he produced excellent maple syrup on his farm, Hilly Haven, in Caledon East. Professor Emeritus A. Murray Fallis passed away in his 97thyear on July 8, 2003.
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