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1917-2017 A century of Life Sciences Teaching and Research

 The Departments of Botany and Zoology of the University of the Witwatersrand were founded in 1917 as part of the South African School of Mines and Technology. At that time their main function was to provide instruction for thirty six students of medicine and dentistry. For the first two years of its existence, the Botany Department had only a single member of staff, Professor C.E. Moss . He was joined by an assistant in 1919. Professor H.B. Fantham was his counterpart in Zoology, a post he held until 1932. For the first few years the two departments were uncomfortably housed in a corrugated iron building on Plein Square, moving to the Biology Building in 1923.

At that time the building also housed the departments of Geology and Applied Mathematics. The completion of the Biology Building was delayed for some months by a battle between the two professors about the lighting for the museums. Prof. Fantham insisted on top light and Prof. Moss insisted on south light. 

The Department of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences was formed in July 1999 from the former Departments of Botany and Zoology and is housed on two floors in the Biology Building, and the major parts of three floors in the Oppenheimer Life Sciences Building. Following further re-organization within the University in the year 2000, including the establishment of Schools to replace most former Departments, we are now the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences.