Senior as sharp as younger classmates

Keith Oliver graduated from university with a PhD in biological science aged 79.
Keith Oliver graduated from university with a PhD in biological science aged 79.

The Hamersley resident has four degrees and continues to publish papers on his research into evolution and DNA.

Dr Oliver has been associated with Murdoch since the 1980s, first as an honorary research associate, then as an undergraduate earning a biological science degree with 1st class honours and a philosophy degree, and finally as a PhD student in biological science.

‘Study certainly has benefits for brain health as you age,’ he said.

‘University is for mature age students too, not just young people. It gives older people something to think about instead of just watching TV.

‘If you’re an undergraduate you’re in a class with other students and it’s stimulating to form new friendships and see how younger people think.’

Dr Oliver said he felt at a loss without university since finishing his PhD.

‘It was a big part of my life. It’s like when you retire, there’s a hole to fill.

‘I’ve been interested in evolutionary theory for quite a long time; I did part of my honours research on aspects of it so I continue to pursue that as an adjunct to the university, which is voluntary.

‘My current obsession is with retroviruses and the part they play in evolution,’ he said.