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)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor