UBC, 1941, BSc, Agriculture
UBC, 1949, MSc, Animal Husbandry
Oregon State University, 1951, PhD, Animal Science


James Oldfield was born in Victoria, BC in 1921 and received the degrees of BSA (Animal Husbandry) in 1941 and MSA in 1949. Further professional training was received at the Oregon State College (now Oregon State University), Corvallis OR, where he received his PhD in Animal Science in 1951. Dr Oldfield continued his research and teaching career at OSU, where he became a leading pioneer in the study and eradication of white muscle disease (WMD). He began publishing on this subject in 1955, showing how the disease can be produced experimentally and as early as 1958 he and his colleagues demonstrated the protective effects of selenium and vitamin E. The study of WMD and other selenium-responsive conditions in ruminants as well as various aspects of the role of selenium in animal and human nutrition continued to occupy him during the next four decades. As the Head of the Department of Animal Science at OSU from 1967 to 1983, he helped make it an internationally recognized centre for selenium research.

In addition to his work on selenium, he studied the nutritional requirements and nutritional problems in various species of animals; the autoxidation of lipids (particularly fish oils); growth and reproduction problems; steatitis or “yellow fat”; biological effects of forage coumestrol; nutritionally induced fur defects in mink; and the utilization of animal wastes. He is the author of 140 technical papers and journal articles and of 90 reports and non-journal articles, and has organized numerous meetings on selenium and related topics. He served on a number of prestigious committees, including the US National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council Committee on Animal Nutrition.

In 1969 he was nominated Distinguished Professor, OSU, and from 1981 to 1983 he was the Rosenfeld Distinguished Professor of Agriculture. He received several professional awards including the Basic Science Award of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station (1961); the Sigma Xi Research Award, OSU (1964); the Morrison Award, American Society of Animal Science (1972); and the Distinguished Service Award, Western Section, American Society of Animal Science. He also received a Fulbright Research Scholarship to Massey University, New Zealand, in 1974. In 1978 he became a Fellow of the American Society for Animal Science. In 1984 he was elected into the Fur Industry Hall of Fame, and in 1987 he became a Fellow of the American Institute of Nutrition. In 1998 he received the prestigious Klaus Schwarz Medal for his contribution to biological trace element research.

Dr Oldfield retired from the Department of Animal Science with the title of Professor Emeritus and then held the post of Director of the OSU Nutrition Research Institute for 3 years. In addition he continued as a consultant to the Selenium Tellurium Development Association, which is based in Belgium, and as secretary to the Mink Farmers Research Foundation, which annually makes grants-in-aid of mink research in the U.S. In 2000 he published a Selenium World Atlas.

Dr Oldfield resides in Corvallis, OR, with wife Mildred and dog, George. The Oldfields have five children, Nancy McLaren (who works at the Alan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre at UBC), Kathy Sansome, David Oldfield, Jane Imper and Dick Oldfield.

R Blair 2001

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