Tributes to 'cheerful and adventurous' UEA biologist and lecturer

Dr Harriet Jones who has died age 55

Dr Harriet Jones who has died age 55 - Credit: Prof Kay Yeoman

A highly-respected scientist who inspired thousands of university students and lecturers around the world has died aged 55.

Professor Harriet Jones - who was also known as Harry - lived in Earlham Road in Norwich and was a professor in the School of Biology at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

She had worked at the university since 1999.

She died at her home on May 27 from cancer.

A tribute from her husband, Dr Ian Senior, 57, and their three children Ashleigh, 24, Owen, 22, and Ellen, 18, said: "Harry was the centre of our family, always organising our next adventure while simultaneously looking after her UEA students, researching and writing papers and finally realising her dream of writing children's books to bring the micro world to the attention of kids of all ages.

"She was incredible and we will miss her dearly."

Professor Jones was described as an "amazing person" by her friend and UEA colleague Prof Kay Yeoman, 55, a professor of science communication.

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She said: "Harriet will be remembered as someone who was willing to help anyone.

"Her door was always open. We will miss her enthusiasm. She was a major part of the wider university.

"She was an inspiration to many and was always happy, bright and cheerful."

She grew up in London and Chemlsford before completing a botany degree at the University of Bristol and PhD in marine protozoology from the University of Birmingham. 

As well as teaching students within the school of biological sciences she researched into how to help new university students gain confidence in their studies.

That research was used by lecturers around the world.

"She loved helping students succeed. It gave her satisfaction seeing students develop and loved helping them in times of adversity," Prof Yeoman added.

Professor Jones loved plants, botany and single-celled organisms called protozoa, which inspired her to set up the independent publishing company Paramecium Press last year.

Through that company, she co-wrote two children's fiction stories based on the science of protozoa.

She also became a fellow of the Royal Society of Biologists and received a national teaching fellowship in 2019.

Outside of science, she loved playing the piano and cello and gardening on her allotment.

A plaque will be put on a memorial bench to Professor Jones next to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.