Gene Lyons and Sharon Tolliver: An Era in Parasitology

Take a look back at the lives and work of veterinary parasitologists Dr. Eugene T. Lyons and Sharon C. Tolliver.
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This commentary was written by Martin Nielsen, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVM, associate professor and Schlaikjer Professor of Equine Infectious Disease, at the University of Kentucky (UK) Gluck Equine Research Center.


This year, 2017, was a sad one for veterinary parasitology. Two of the world’s most recognized scientists in their field—Dr. Eugene T. Lyons (PhD) and Ms. Sharon C. Tolliver—recently passed away, marking the end of an era. The parasitology research program at UK celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017. Of these 70 years, Gene Lyons and Sharon Tolliver worked here 56 and 52 years, respectively. In other words, they were the research program. And each remained active at the University of Kentucky until their death.

They influenced and were appreciated by colleagues around the world who had the opportunity to know and work with them—students, postdocs, visiting scientists, and countless other individuals in the equine and veterinary industries who worked and interacted with them over the decades.

They had a unique working relationship and did most things together, including farm visits to collect fecal samples, postmortem work with parasite specimen collection and identification, and writing manuscripts. Gene would draft the paper, and Sharon would proofread it and organize the references. During farm visits, Gene would go into the stall to collect a fecal sample from a horse, and Sharon would mark the sample off on the clipboard and keep all samples organized. They worked together in symbiosis

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