About Roscoe Ellis, Jr.

Roscoe Ellis, Jr.Dr. Roscoe Ellis, Jr. began a career of contributions to science and society at Kansas State University as an instructor in 1949. After completing his Ph.D. degree at the University of Wisconsin in 1954, he resumed teaching and research responsibilities in the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University. His career was marked by numerous scientific achievements up to his untimely death in 1982.

Roscoe became a highly respected soil chemist through his research in clay mineralogy, soil phosphorus and micronutrient chemistry. He researched the quantification of clay minerals in mixtures and greatly expanded knowledge on the mineralogy and chemistry of Kansas soils. His studies on the interaction of phosphorus and zinc chemistry in soils advanced theoretical horizons and provided practical implications for fertilizer management on Kansas farms.

Dr. Ellis’s characterization of zinc levels in Kansas soils led to the development of a zinc soil test procedure. That test was used to determine when responsive additions of zinc fertilizer could be recommended.

Dr. Ellis advanced the frontiers of knowledge in soil phosphorus chemistry through a variety of research studies. Perhaps his most significant work investigated the complexity of polyphosphate reactions in soils and their conversion to the plant available orthophosphate form. These studies advanced both the theoretical aspects of polyphophate chemistry and the adaptation of polyphosphate use in crop production.

Dr. Ellis was highly sought after to partnership in studies involving soil chemistry. His cooperative studies with the USDA on soil and environmental factors causing magnesium deficiency in cattle (grass tetany) led to a better understanding of this significant problem.

Dr. Ellis mentored 32 graduate students and their efforts resulted in 45 scientific publications. He served his profession as Associate Editor of both the Agronomy Journal and Soil Science Society of America Journal, Soil Chemistry Program Chairman in 1962 for the Soil Science Society of America, and in 1979 he was named Editor-in-Chief of the Soil Science Society of America Journal.

Dr. Ellis’s career as a preeminent teacher, researcher and person provided an excellent example for all. He was recognized with memberships in the honor societies of Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, Gamma Sigma Delta, and Pi Mu Epsilon and as a Fellow of both the Soil Science Society of America and American Society of Agronomy.