Vale Professor Neil McMeniman, a genuinely good bloke, internationally renowned veterinary nutritionist, Fellow of the Australian Society of Animal Production, and a two-term head of the School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, responsible for leading the School through some of its toughest challenges. Neil passed away on 11 May 2020.
Neil grew up on a mixed sheep property near Stanthorpe, and after graduating with a BVSc from The University of Queensland in 1966 married Eileen, his lifelong partner. He spent his early postgraduate days in Charleville working in the Sheep and Wool Branch of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries doing research relevant to the sheep industry. In 1972 he was awarded his MVSc degree (UQ) for original, practical research that today still underpins the strategies and recommendations on feeding mulga to sheep and cattle. With their four children (Susan, Caron, Deirdre and Damien) Neil and Eileen moved to the UK in 1973 where Neil completed his PhD research at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne working with Professor David Armstrong on microbial protein production in ruminants. This work was at the forefront of research into identifying and quantifying the factors that influence the efficiency of microbial protein production in the rumen.
After obtaining his PhD in 1976 Neil and the family returned to Charleville where he applied his theoretical knowledge to practical issues facing the region. Neil carried out some of the first and only studies into nutrient supply to sheep grazing the Mitchell grasslands; his findings still form the basis for current recommendations to producers on grazing sheep and cattle in the region.
In 1981, Neil joined The University of Queensland and rose through the ranks to become Head of the School of Veterinary Science in 2001, holding various academic and administrative appointments along the way. He has supervised some 21 postgraduate students in a variety of fields. His work at The University of Queensland involved the study of aspect of the nutrition of a wide variety of animal species including sheep and cattle, deer, horses, dogs, fish and crocodiles. All of this research was tackled with the strong scientific rigour for which Neil is well known and respected, but still with the practical application to the industry in mind. Neil published some 75 refereed papers and 40 conference papers. He was a strong advocate for international research in developing countries supervising many students from those regions and conducting training courses there.
Above all Neil is known for his collegiate approach to life. He has mentored countless undergraduate and post-graduate students and staff, always with his quiet, positive advice and occasional need to step out onto the veranda for a fag. His dedication to the welfare of the ‘team’ is exemplified by his willingness to return from retirement to once again take over the reins as head of School in 2006, a time when the School was facing major international accreditation issues. He steered the School through this hurdle and laid the foundations for the building of the new veterinary school at Gatton.