Dr. Ursula Helen Knight Abbott, BASc’49, MSc’50

After a bravely fought battle with cancer, Ursula died at home in Davis, CA, on January 15, 2012. Born in 1927 in Chilliwack, BC, Ursula graduated from Duke of Connaught High School in New Westminster in 1945. At UBC she received her bachelor’s degree in agriculture followed by an MSc in poultry and genetics. In 1955, she obtained her PhD in Genetics at University of California, Berkeley. Her career at University of California, Davis, spanned almost 50 years, during which time she travelled extensively and spent time living and working in Italy, France and Washington, DC.

Ursula earned the respect and admiration of her peers and graduate students for her dedication to the study of avian embryo, in particular the advancement of avian developmental genetics, and was chair of the Avian Sciences Department from 1981-1984. In her honour, and on the occasion of her retirement as emeritus professor, the Ursula K. Abbott Symposium on Developmental Genetics and Teratology was held at UC Davis in February, 2004.

Ursula maintained a second home in Vancouver, BC, and spent time there often. She will be remembered by her family, friends and colleagues as a superb conversationalist, an astute business person, and a very independent and adventurous individual. She will be particularly missed by her cousins in Toronto, with whom she spent Christmas for the past 25 years.

She was predeceased by parents, Ruth Agar and Gordon Knight; husband John and son, Michael. She is survived by her son, John Gordon Abbott, and fondly remembered by many cousins in Canada and the United States.

A Celebration of Life was held for Dr. Abbott on May 2 at UC Davis. In her memory, donations may be made to the Knight Family Centenary Scholarship and the Ursula Knight Abbott Travel Scholarship at UBC.

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