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Google Doodle celebrates Malaysian zoologist Dr. Lim Boo Liat

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Celebrating Dr. Lim Boo Liat Google Doodle

Google Doodle celebrates Malaysian zoologist Dr. Lim Boo Liat, the first Southeast Asian to be awarded Honorary Membership to the American Society of Mammalogists, on June 21, 2022.

Who was Dr. Lim Boo Liat?

Dr Lim Boo Liat
Dr. Lim Boo Liat

Lim Boo Liat was born on 21 August 1926 in Klang, Selangor. His pioneering work uncovered the biological diversity of Malaysia and made him a powerful advocate for the protection of the country’s natural heritage.

While going to secondary school in Klang, Selangor, Dr. Lim Boo Liat frequented visited the school nursery to observe the life of small animals and insects found there. He was just 16 when World War II came to Malaysia and needed to stop his studies to help his loved ones. Disrupting his studies, he maintained odd jobs to support his loved ones.

He made a trip to Carey Island and set up the machinery to harvest salt from seawater. During his time on the island, he figured out how to recognize animals from the indigenous people, the Orang Asli.

Albeit lacking proper education, the zoological knowledge Lim Boo Liat learned on Carey Island gave him the chance to take a temporary position at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) in Kuala Lumpur in 1947.

In 1952, Lim Boo Liat was promoted to a permanent Lab Assistant and was engaged in various scientific campaigns. Dr. Lim directed research and went to conferences in regards to parasitic effects on wildlife behavior. From 1955 to 1969, he published more than 80 scientific papers on vertebrate animals and was approached to head a newly established Medical Ecology Division at the IMR.

During this time, Lim Boo Liat likewise helped found the National Zoo of Malaysia and restored the Malaysian Nature Society after a break brought about by World War II. Following a three-year break to earn his masters degree, Lim got back to the IMR as a zoologist in 1972, heading the IMR’s Medical Ecology Division.

Seeing his true capacity and skill in the field, a few professors from European universities prepared for him to seek his Masters Degree, despite his lack of formal education. In fact, Dr. Lim didn’t accept his Bachelor’s Degree before his sponsorship to the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

In 1959, Dr. Lim Boo Liat got a Sino-British Fellowship Trust Award and spent 18 months studying animal ecology and the taxonomy of mammals under Charles S. Elton at Oxford University and George Dunnet at Aberdeen University. Lim got a Medical Research Council Fellowship in 1969 to finish his masters degree in science from the University of Aberdeen.

Dr. Lim Boo Liat came back to Malaysia in 1972 and kept running the Medical Ecology Division, this time as a full-fledged zoologist. Dr. Lim obtained his Ph.D. in Zoology at the Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1977 and was welcome to assist with running the Vector Biology Control Research Unit at the World Health Organization.

Dr. Lim Boo Liat was the first person to be awarded a Ph.D. from Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1977.

In 1977, Dr. Lim Boo Liat became the head of the Vector Biology Control Research Unit of the World Health Organization in Jakarta, Indonesia. His work there remembered research for plague, malaria control, and rodent control. He worked at the WHO until his retirement in 1987.

After his retirement, Dr. Lim Boo Liat became the honorary consultant on zoology for the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia, assisting with establishing a research laboratory for small animals. Throughout his career, he was a writer of more than 300 scientific papers and wrote numerous books, including Poisonous Snakes of Peninsula Malaysia (1979), Orang Asli Animal Tales (1981), and Turtles of Borneo (1999).

His contributions to the field of zoology and biodiversity have inspired the next generation of researchers from Malaysia. From a temporary lab assistant to an honorary member of the American Society of Mammalogists, Dr. Lim is a shining example of immense expertise. He has various species of parasites and animals named after him and is a 2013 recipient of the Merdeka Award.

Dr. Lim Boo Liat died at his home in Cheras on 11 July 2020 at the age of 93.

On June 21, 2022, Google featured a Doodle on its homepage for celebrating Dr. Lim Boo Liat.

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the life of Dr. Lim Boo Liat, a famous Malaysian zoologist and leading authority on everything connected with Malaysia’s biological diversity. He helped start Malaysia’s national zoo and wrote more than 300 scientific publications about mammalogy and parasitology.

On this day in 2003, Dr. Lim Boo Liat became the first Southeast Asian and fourth Asian to be awarded an Honorary Membership to the American Society of Mammalogists.

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