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Dr. Brian Kerry, nematologist – obituary

The Guardian, 16 nov. / Ken Evans

Brian Kerry

My friend Brian Kerry, who has died aged 63, worked at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, from 1973 to 2010, serving as a head of department from 1987 to 2000, and associate director from 1998 until he retired in 2010. His career was devoted to agricultural research, specifically the study of plant-parasitic nematodes (eelworms), and he forged strong links between research and the practical aspects of his field. He published more than 100 research papers and a much-quoted book, Principles and Practice of Nematode Control in Crops.

Born in the Suffolk village of Botesdale, he gained a BSc degree and a PhD in agricultural sciences at Nottingham and Reading universities. In 1981, he was seconded for six months to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia; in 1989 he began a year’s duty as head of Rothamsted’s crop protection division; in 1991 he spent two months in the department of nematology at the University of California Riverside; and for almost four years from 1994 he was co-ordinator of Rothamsted’s programme on integrated crop protection. He organised the construction of extensive modern laboratories, and, from 2007, was director of Rothamsted’s centre for soils and ecosystem function.

His research opened up links with fellow nematologists around the world. His last major international project, one very close to his heart, was funded by the Gatsby Foundation. Together with UK partners and nematologists from Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, he formed the Nematology Initiative for Eastern and Southern Africa (NIESA). Nematology laboratories were equipped, in-country training courses on a variety of topics organised, MSc and PhD scholarships provided, and scientific outputs disseminated at international conferences.

Brian had a strong commitment to the Association of Applied Biologists and became its president in 2004. He was made a fellow of the Society of Nematologists (1993) and given awards by the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture and Environment (2003) and the Organisation of Nematologists of Tropical America (2011). He was appointed MBE in 2008.

Sport provided a means to relax and Brian was a keen hockey player. He also enjoyed running – in 1986 he completed the London marathon in the time of three hours, 45 minutes. He enjoyed walking in the countryside with his wife, Maxine, whom he married in 1970, and indulging his lifelong hobby of birdwatching, which he pursued in all continents. He is survived by Maxine, his daughter, Anna, his brother, Mike, and his mother, Winifred.

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  1. Very nice person. It was a pity that he suffered for years with health problems. We’re going to miss him a lot. Great job, Mr. Evans.

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