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Biography of the Year for
Alan P. Roelfs

2019

Alan P. Roelfs PhotoAlan P. Roelfs
BiographyDr. Roelfs earned a B.S. in Technical Agronomy and an M.S. in Plant Pathology from Kansas State University, and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Minnesota. While a graduate student at Kansas State, he also worked as a research technician for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in the Cereal Rust Laboratory at the University of Minnesota. At the same time, he enrolled as a Ph.D. student in the Plant Pathology Department. In 1970, after receiving his Ph.D., he was promoted to USDA-ARS Research Plant Pathologist at the Cereal Rust Laboratory and became an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Plant Pathology. He continued there from 1970 to 1993, and in 1981 served as Acting Director. Dr. Roelfs also taught and did committee work, as well as a host of other activities in the Department of Plant Pathology. Understanding cereal rust diseases, particularly wheat stem rust and wheat leaf rust, has driven his career. His experience in rust surveys was the bedrock for his important contributions to epidemiology of rust diseases, as well as to understanding complex interactions between varieties of small grains and pathogenic races of rust fungi. His research with his colleagues led to extensive advances in the study of population genetics of plant pathogens. Dr. Roelfs has published more than 100 papers in journals, book chapters, and other publications. He co-edited, with Bill Bushnell, the two-volume exposition on The Cereal Rusts a comprehensive treatment of all aspects of host-parasite interactions and biology of cereal rust fungi. In recognition of his distinguished research contribution, Dr. Roelfs was honored as a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society. Dr. Roelfs is recognized as one of the world’s major leaders in cereal rust research. He was the foliar disease expert on the National Academy of Science delegation to China for wheat studies in 1976. He has been twice invited to serve as a consultant for epidemiology of cereal rust with the Intra-American Institute for Agricultural Research in Brazil, and he was an FAO consultant on wheat diseases in Pakistan. He has served as an advisor for cereal disease research in India, Mexico, and Morocco. Dr. Roelfs’ presence at the Cereal Rust Lab served as an incentive for visiting scientists from around the world. Since retirement, he maintains several active research interests including studies in biology and evolutionary relationships of rusts in the Puccinia recondita (leaf rust) species complex. He is also pursuing studies of the rusts of native North American prairie grasses. Around the world, Dr. Roelfs’ frequently consults on all aspects of cereal rust research including epidemiology, cereal rust surveys, and techniques
IndustryGovernment/Agriculture
TitleSupervisory Research Plant Pathologist
ExpertiseCereal Rust Diseases
Current OrganizationUS Dept Agriculture, Agric. Res. Service
Type of OrganizationFederal government
Major ProductAgriculture, disease control
Area of DistributionNational
University/DegreeB.S., Technical Agronomy; M.S., Plant Pathology, Kansas State University; Ph.D., Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota
BornStockton, Kansas
Published WorksCo-Author, The Cereal Rusts Vol. I Academic Press 1984, Bushnell, Roelfs; The Cereal Rusts Vol. II Academic Press 1985, Roelfs, Bushnell; The Wheat Rusts CIMMYT 1992, Roelfs, Singh, Huerta-Espino
AffiliationsAmerican Phytopathology Society
Hobbies & SportsNative plants
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