DR. SULTAN AHMAD (1910-1983)
A. GHAFFAR AND S. I. ALI
Dr. Sultan Ahmad,
an eminent mycologist, died of heart attack on 11 th November 1983 in Lahore after
a long illness. He was a chronic patient of diabetes melitus. In the later part
of his life he developed retinopathy, suffered from renal failure and remained
on dialysis before breathing his last. May God Almighty shower His blessings upon
the departed soul and may his soul rest in eternal peace in heaven. Amen.
Sultan Ahmad was born on 6th June 1910 at Ladhar, Sheikhupura, Punjab, now Pakistan.
He obtained his M.Sc degree in 1932 from the University of the Punjab, Labore
where he worked with Prof. S.R. Kashyap on Aithisoniella himalyensis Kash.
He also obtained the B.Ed. degree from the Punjab University, Lahore in 1934 and
served as a teacher in a High School in Gujrat and then as a Lecturer in Biology
at Rohtak. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, he returned to Lahore and joined
the Government College, Lahore. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in 1950 for his work
on Gasteromycetes of West Pakistan which he submitted under the supervision of
Professor Dr. Ahmad Ali Qureshi and later D.Sc in 1957 from the University of
the Punjab. Dr. Sultan Ahmad retired as Professor and Head of the Department of
Botany, Government College Lahore in 1970. The University of the Punjab appointed
him as Professor Emeritus in 1972 and Dr. Sultan Ahmad continued to involve himself
in research work on the fungi of Pakistan.
From his very early days, Dr. Sultan
Ahmad had a fancy for the collection of plants. He used to go to the deserts of
Rohtak for the collection of botanical specimens especially the Gasteromycetes,
with Dr. Kashyap he travelled in the Himalyan range and Tibet, and then with his
students to the Northern areas of Pakistan. Apart from the Sedges and Grasses
of Lahore (1954), Grasses of the Punjab (1958) which he published with Dr. R.R.
Stewart, Dr. Sultan Ahmad has been an eminent contributor to the study of fungi
of Pakistan where descriptions of over 2500 species of fungi have been recorded
by him in his monumental works on Gastromyctes of Pakistan (1952), Fungi of West
Pakistan (1956, 1969), Basidomycetes of Pakistan (1972), Uredinales of West Pakistan
(1956), Ustilaginales of West Pakistan (1956), Pezizales of West Pakistan (1955),
Besides a series of research papaers on fungi which he published with B. B. Mundkur,
Jboidin, L. W. Wehmeyer etc., in Lloydia, Farlowia, Sydowia, Biologia and other
scientific journals of international repute. He is botanically remembered by names
of taxa of fungi and mosses viz., Gimmia ahmadiana, Noguchi, Amphididmyella
ahmadiaii Müller, Xylosphaeria ahmadii Petr., Dictyoporthe
ahmadii Petr., Mycothyridium ahmadii (Boidin) Biodin, Helminthosporium
ahmadii M. B. Ellis Coniothyridium Sultanii Abbas, Phyllosticta
Sultanii Abbas, and which have been named after Dr. Sultan Ahmed. Scientists
tend to make extensive use of his description of the fungi of Pakistan. His vast
collection of fungal specimens have since been deposited in the Mycological Herbarium
of the Department of Botany, University of the Punjab, Lahore, and also duplicate
in Herb. I. M. I, Kew, Surry, England and also in the Mycological Herbarium of
USDA, Beltsville, MD, USA.
Dr Sultan Ahmed, in 1953, founded the Biological
Society of Pakistan and served as Editor of Biologia, an official publication
of the society from 1955-83 until his death. In recognition of his significant
contributions to scientific research, the government of Pakistan awarded him the
Tamgha-I-Quaid-e-Azam and the Pakistan Academy of Sciences elected him as Fellow
of the Academy in 1974.
Dr. Sultan Ahmed was an amicable person. He always
nurtured his students and his associates with love and affection and encouraged
them to make contribution to the study of the subject. He generally shared his
vast knowledge and experience with many of us, this certainly was one of his greatest
attributes. He would make witty remarks and often indulge in telling many anecdotes
and entertaining the young botanists with experiences of his career and about
the colleagues he had known.
A six feet tall Dr. Sultan ahmed was a unique
person in the sense that he always worn a Pakistani dress, Shalwar, Kameez and
Sherwani with Jinnah cap. Although he had several research associates outside
Pakistan but it was in 1979 that he went outside Pakistan on a visit to USA to
meet his son.
Apart from members of the family, Dr. Sultan Ahmed had left behind
a large numbers of his students and colleagues which are now holding responsible
positions in teaching and research institutes at home and aboard to mourn the