Professor Ronald G Board

It is with great regret we report the death of Ron Board, the University of Bath notice can be found at

Professor Ronald G. Board died suddenly whilst on holiday in Morocco on 12th March 2013. Ron was a founding father of the IFRG, or, as it was then, the Incubation Research Group, and through his students at University of Bath and his own research on microbiology and the eggshell, he was hugely influential in promoting the science of incubation in the UK. The Incubation Research Group was an essential part of this, fostering interactions between the industry and researchers in an informal atmosphere.

"Educated in Devon, his thesis from the University of Edinburgh in 1962 was entitled “A study of the bacterial infection of the hen’s egg”. Ron was a founding member of the University of Bath where he became Emeritus Professor. His favourite subjects became the microbiology of eggs and sausages and, for this reason, he was referred to as the “breakfast scientist” by his research students. He was a critically acclaimed microbiologist who wrote many scientific papers, book chapters as well as editing books and serving as editor for the Journal of Applied Bacteriology.

Ron Board and pipe

In 1973, as I finished my first degree, Ron asked me if I would be interested in studying how eggs became infected with Salmonella. The British Egg Marketing Board was being wound up and the funds they had accumulated were now being offered as scholarships. However, during the summer of 1973, Ron had been using the scanning electron microscope in the Department of Material Sciences to look at the structure of the eggshells from the bantam hens he kept in his garden. He became obsessed and as I joined him in the autumn all thoughts of the Salmonella project disappeared as we began to record the structure of different bird eggshells that suddenly started appearing in his office from all around the world.

In 1975, we glued some of our best photographs of our eggshells onto a sheet of cardboard and set off to Edinburgh for a meeting of WPSA Sub-Committee No. 6. at the AFRC’s Poultry Research Centre which was organised by Harry Lundy. This was to be the last meeting of the committee because the secretary, Dr Kaltofen, was retiring. No one wanted to take over running the committee, but everyone wanted to continue meeting informally to discuss eggs and incubation. Ron and I offered to host a meeting at the University of Bath the following year. This meeting was a great success and so the Incubation Research Group (now the Incubation and Fertility Research Group {WPSA Working group 6 (Reproduction)}) was born and it has met on annual basis ever since.

Ron continued his microbiology, but I think his first love became the egg, eggshell and incubation. He surrounded himself with students who continue this work today. For that was the man. He would inspire you to become deeply interested in your studies and the love of those studies and the principles he taught you would stay with you for the rest of your life.

I found Ron mysterious, difficult to fathom at times, if not a little eccentric. When I started writing this note I wanted to say he had an enigmatic personality – but I did not really know what this meant. Then I found a definition on the internet:

“An enigmatic personality is about being imaginative, replacing the banal with the creative and always surprising people with the depths of your knowledge and charm”.

Yes, that was Ron, exactly. "

Steve Tullett, March 2013


Prof. N. Sparks,
Animal & Veterinary Sciences, SRUC Avian Science Research Centre, UK

Ron Board – a lifetime’s contribution to egg science and so much more besides.
For Nick's presentation at 2013 meeting click here ; click any slide to start the slide show.


Ken Laughlin

Sadly, Ken Laughlin, one of the world's most respected animal welfare and poultry breeding experts, died in April after a period of illness. Ken was most recently group vice-president for policy and strategy at Aviagen before retiring in 2008. His expertise was recognised by the award of the 15th Temperton Fellowship in 2007 for his work on 'The Evolution of Genetics, Breeding and Management' . He studied zoology at Durham University, followed by a PhD on incubation in wild bird populations. I met him first in 1969 at the Edward Grey Institute, Oxford University, at the annual meeting for students. Ken was then a research student in Scotland, working I recall with Tufted Ducks. Ken then worked at the Poultry Research Centre and he was a founder member of the IFRG (at that time IRG). It was while Ken was at the PRC that he and Christine Mather published three seminal papers on the storage of hatching eggs (1,2,3). These are featured in the British Poultry Science Virtual Special Issue. Thereafter he worked for Marshalls in Edinburgh, Cobb, and in South Africa before joining Aviagen in 2003. Ken returned to the IFRG meetings when he attended the 30th anniversary meeting in Lincoln in 2005. He will be much missed.

GKB 06/2012

1. Mather, C. M.& Laughlin, K. F. (1976) Storage of hatching eggs: The effect on total incubation period. British Poultry Science 17 (5): 471-479.

2. Mather, C. M.& Laughlin, K. F. (1977) Storage of hatching eggs: The effect on early embryonic development. British Poultry Science 18 (5): 597-603.

3. Mather, C. M.& Laughlin, K. F. (1979) Storage of hatching eggs: The interaction between parental age and early embryonic development. British Poultry Science 20 (6): 595-604.

Ken Laughlin