Obituary: Professor K. C. Sellers

Kenneth Charles Sellers, veterinary scientist, teacher and administrator, born 19 November 1915, married 1944 Ruth Hirsch (three sons), died Stock Essex 9 January 1993.

A MAN of military aspect, somewhat incongruously dressed in the white robes of a tribal chieftain, with a cluster of foliage on his shoulder, looks out of a photograph that arrived on the editor's desk at the Veterinary Record some 20 years ago. It was of KC Sellers, Professor of Veterinary Pathology at the University of Ibadan.

Ken Sellers had taken up the post in Nigeria late in his career when the Farm Livestock Research Centre of the Animal Health Trust closed down in 1971. He had been appointed as the centre's first director when it was set up at Stock, in Essex, by the AHT's founder, Reg Wooldridge, in 1955. Sellers led an enthusiastic team in research projects into a wide variety of infectious and metabolic problems in cattle, pigs and sheep. The team recruited and led by him was inspired by his enthusiasm and his brilliance. Dozens of papers and articles resulted as the research centre got into its stride.

However, the government-funded Institute of Research into Animal Diseases at Compton largely took over the role that the Farm Livestock Centre had been created to fulfil. Fund-raising became increasingly difficult and the closure became inevitable.

It was typical of Sellers that he put as much enthusiasm and effort into finding jobs for his staff as he had done into the running of the research centre. Those colleagues went on to develop their own distinguished careers; all pay tribute to the grounding they received under his tutelage.

Sellers qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 1937, adding a B Sc to his MRCVS before moving to Cambridge in a research post. Progress towards his Ph D was delayed by the Second World War, in which he was commissioned into the Royal Marine Commandos, a move which hinted at the strength of character latent in the scientific worker. It was during the war that he met and married Ruth Hirsch, his staunch companion thereafter.

He joined the Veterinary Investigation Service of the Ministry of Agriculture in 1948: from his post as a Ministry vet Wooldridge plucked him to run the Farm Livestock Research Station.

Ken Sellers was nothing if not whole-hearted in the part he played in the communities in which he lived as well as in his work. He lectured widely; he was a governor of Chelmsford Grammar School and the local College of Further Education. A keen, if unorthodox, golfer, he also played bowls and, following a visit to France, boules.

Sellers was one of a now extinct breed of scientist, the generalist. Not only did he do work on all species of farm animal, he studied the distribution of biting midges, discovering a new one, culicoides sellersi (named after him), in the process. He studied drug resistance in livestock, investigated infertility problems in cattle and the effects of parasitism, on animal production. One of his last publications (with FB Leech) was on statistical aspects of epidemiology. It was this breadth of interests that made him such an invaluable acquisition to the developing veterinary school at Ibadan.

His translocation to Nigeria in his mid-fifties brought a new dimension to his activities. He applied his administrative skills to running his department, organised the teaching of students, ran a diagnostic pathology service and embarked upon new fields of research. He and his wife entered so thoroughly into the life of the local community - Mrs Sellers was involved with a school for deaf children - that after only two years in Nigeria, he was made an honorary chieftain with the title Akorede of Eruwa. It was a photograph of him in his chieftain's robes that the Veterinary Record published. In 1976, he returned to England, where he enjoyed his retirement at Stock.

Ken Sellers will be remembered for his contributions to veterinary science and, by those who know him, for his qualities as a friend and a helpful and supportive colleague.

(Photograph omitted)

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam