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Dr Roger Charles William Berkeley, 1937-2010

Dr Roger Berkeley

Dr Roger Berkeley

22 November 2010

Dr Roger Berkeley, Senior Lecturer in Bacteriology and former Warden of Badock Hall, died on 18 September. Dr Gilbert Howe and Professor Niall Logan offer an appreciation of his life and work.

Roger Berkeley came to the then Department of Bacteriology under the leadership of Professor Kenneth Cooper in 1964. He had previously been a PhD student at Nottingham where he studied under Myfanwy Turner, completing his thesis on the bacterial decomposition of chitin.

Roger quickly became an active member of the team teaching students for the BSc degree: on the arrival of Professor (later Sir Mark) Richmond he made an important contribution to the teaching of molecular microbiology, an area in which the Department soon became internationally recognized. At the same time he began to develop a programme of research on the genus Bacillus, the group of spore-forming bacteria that includes the organism that causes anthrax. His research covered a wide area including transport across cell membranes, attachment of bacteria to surfaces, and the identification and classification of Bacillus species. This last interest dominated his later work and culminated in his co-authoring the Bacillus chapters of the 1986 and 1994 editions of the universally respected Bergey's Manual.

He served the Society for General Microbiology as its Cell Surfaces and Membranes Group Convener 1975-79 and Meetings Secretary 1980-85, and in the 1980s he was Chairman of the Bacillus Subcommittee of the International Committee on the Systematics of Bacteria.

Roger also served the University in other ways. He became the Faculty of Science Tutor, giving special guidance to students in the Ordinary Degree curriculum, and in 1984 he was appointed Warden of Badock Hall. This position was of great importance to him: he brought his skills to the benefit of a wide group of students and achieved high standards pastorally and domestically. He retired finally in 2002.

Outside the academic world Roger was well known as a discriminating and generous bon viveur, and in later years he and his wife Stella were strong supporters of the MacInnes Club. He was a lover of jazz, and from childhood his great passion was to go to sea in all kinds of boats. After National Service in the Royal Navy he raced and cruised for many years under sail and latterly spent the summer months exploring the Baltic in his 11-metre motor cruiser. The three logs of these cruises that he and Stella wrote were awarded major prizes by the Cruising Association.  

All his former colleagues send their deep sympathy to Stella, their children Charles and Louise, and his granddaughter Kate.


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