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Sad news: Paul Hocking

We are sad to announce that our former colleague Paul Hocking passed away on 26 July 2018.

Paul joined the Poultry Research Centre (PRC) in 1983, which later became part of The Roslin Institute and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Paul's scientific career started in Reading in the 1960's where he pursued a PhD in cattle genetics. Cattle were a subject close to Paul’s Devon roots, growing up as he did on a farm.  Before moving to Edinburgh, Paul worked in the cattle industry and in academic posts in both Reading and Canada.

Dr Paul Hocking

When Paul moved to Edinburgh, he entered the world of poultry research.  Paul quickly made a name in what became known as "the broiler breeder paradox". The large body of work that defined the reproductive biology of broiler breeders and its control by feed restriction made Paul the go-to person for broiler and turkey breeder reproductive and welfare research.

All of Paul's work was characterised by well-designed experiments and careful conclusions that led to sound understanding. Paul’s standing was recognised by the European Food Standard Agency, serving as he did on their Panels on Animal Health and Welfare of broilers and broiler breeders and in judicial reviews in the UK on breeder welfare. His work on poultry was rewarded by receipt of the Gordon Memorial Medal in 2013, giving his lecture on the unexpected consequences of genetic selection in broilers and turkeys: problems and solutions. Paul embraced the genomic revolution and was in the forefront of setting up the populations needed to chase down genes for Mendelian and quantitative traits in poultry and he found new applications for his talents in understanding eye defects and disease susceptibility.

Paul made a huge contribution to the committees and societies that make our science community work. Paul helped rejuvenate the UK branch of the World Poultry Science Association as a platform for Poultry Science in the UK and ultimately served as its President. In recent years, Paul was editor of the British Poultry Science journal. Paul made a major contribution to the European Federation of the World Poultry Science Association's committees, especially the working group on Poultry genetics, organising the 7th Symposium in Scotland.  Paul contributed to and edited many books and was a great example of ensuring work was accessible with over 200 papers published.  Paul was a sought after speaker and had been around the world on his reputation, travelling was something he much enjoyed.

In Paul's view, Edinburgh had a much inferior climate to Devon, so he wasted no time retiring to Devon with his wife Denise when he finished his last projects at Roslin and was making the most of the clement weather there.

Paul has worked with so many people who will remember him as a thoroughly decent and good man. His unique style of after dinner jokes have been imitated but not matched. His service to the science and community that underpins such a major industry has left a lasting legacy. All these things were recognised, excepting the jokes, when Paul was elected to the International Poultry Hall of Fame at the World Poultry Congress in Beijing in 2016, an achievement he was rightly proud of. 

He will be much missed by all of us and his student's, many of whom continue to work in the area of poultry science, and his wife, daughters, son and their families.