D. G. Till

President of NZMS 1978-80
Elected to Honorary membership: 
Environmental Science & Research

Desmond Till was born in Christchurch in 1929 and was educated at Christchurch Boys High School and Canterbury College. He completed a pharmacy apprenticeship then trained as a medical laboratory technologist at Christchurch Public Hospital, gaining his qualification in 1954. He then moved in 1955 to the Microbiology Department, Post-graduate Medical School, London, where he worked on the chemotherapy of tuberculosis, at the same time doing a course in postgraduate bacteriology. During this time he travelled to Dar-es-Salaam to work at the European Hospital, then returned to England to work for a short time at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

In 1957, Des took up a position at the National Health Institute in Wellington as a bacteriologist. He was appointed Chief Bacteriologist in 1960 and retained that position until 1993, when the NHI, by then known as the CDC, became part of the Crown Research Institute of Environmental Science and Research. Until his retirement in 1995, Des continued working at ESR as a consultant in the microbiology of food, water and the environment. On retirement from ESR, in the capacity of a private consultant to the Ministry for the Environment, he coordinated the interdepartmental Ministries of Environment, Health and Agriculture's 'Freshwater Microbiology Research Programme' until it's completion in 2002. He has been active in the field of microbiological guidelines for recreational water quality both nationally and internationally. He worked hard to establish closer contacts with the Australian Society of Microbiology, and was NZMS President when the first joint meeting was held in 1980. During his career, Des made notable contributions in the fields of leptospirosis, Giardia and Naegleria, and shellfish biotoxin hazards. For his services to NZMS he was elected an Honorary Member of the Society in 1995.