Sergei Kerov was born in St.Petersburg (Leningrad) on June 12, 1946. His father Vassily Kerov (1898-1971) taught analytical chemistry at one of the St.Petersburg's universities. Students were very fond of him, as was everyone who had a chance to know him closely. A comparison to his father would always be the highest compliment Sergei could imagine. His mother Marianna Nikolaeva (1914-2006) was one of world's leading experts in seed physiology. Her monograph on deep dormancy of seeds has been translated into several languages.
S.Kerov graduated in 1969 from the Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics of Leningrad State University. He received his Ph.D. degree ("Cand. Sci.") there in 1975. His advisor was Anatoly Vershik. In the following years, he taught at the Leningrad Pedagogical Institute, the Institute for Communications, and St.Petersburg State University. In 1993, he moved to a research position at the St.Petersburg Department of Steklov Mathematical Institute (PDMI), while still continuing to teach at the university. In 1994, he was awarded the "Doctor of Sciences" degree by PDMI for a thesis entitled "Asymptotic Representation Theory of the Symmetric Group, with Applications to Analysis".
For over 30 years Sergei Kerov has been one of the most active participants of the St. Petersburg Seminar on Representation Theory and Dynamical Systems.
In May, 2000 Sergei Kerov suddenly fell ill. In early June, he checked into a hospital for the first time in his life. He died on July 30, 2000 of brain cancer. He was survived by his mother, his wife Ludmila, and their sons Dmitri and Vassily.