Kenneth Manley Smith

Virologist & Author
Kenneth_manley_smith.jpg

Smith was born in Helensburgh on 13th November 1892. He was educated at Dulwich College and the Royal College of Science (Imperial College), London where he took his first degree and did graduate research. He was a naturalist as a boy and he was able to continue this approach as a scientist.

After a period at Manchester University, 1920-1927, he moved to Cambridge to work at the Potato Virus Station where he was appointed Director in 1939. During his tenure as Director, he had an immense influence in the establishment of virology, by pioneering research of both plant and insect viruses, as well as by his writing. Although he was less analytical than most modern scientists he unravelled many intricate biological problems with the limited resources at his disposal.

His books on virology have become the standard texts for many an aspiring virologist and he was absolutely committed to making the subject of virology as accessible and popularist as possible.

He remained Director until his retirement in 1959 when, after various changes, the 'Station' had become the Virus Research Unit.

In retirement he continued in active research, in the USA from 1962 to 1969, when he returned to Cambridge and concentrated on new and revised publications. Smith had an immense impact in the establishment of virology, by pioneering the research of both plant and insect viruses, as well as by his prolific writing. He was elected FRS in 1938.

He died on the 11th June 1981.

Image © The Royal Society. Used by permission and under license.