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New fellow

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Tom Evans honored by American Phytopathological Society

Thomas A. (Tom) Evans, professor of plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware, has been made a fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). Since 1965, just 547 of the society’s 5,000-plus members have achieved fellow status, no more than 0.2 percent in any year.

Tom Evans
Tom Evans

Evans will be recognized at a reception on July 30 during the 50th anniversary meeting of the International Congress of Plant Pathology (ICPP2018) hosted by APS in Boston, Massachusetts.

UD has the distinction of being the first academic institution in the U.S. (and perhaps the world) to establish a professorship in plant pathology. Frederick D. Chester was appointed to the position in 1888, concurrent with the establishment of the Delaware Agricultural Experiment Station.

The Department of Plant Pathology, which began in that year, continued until 1967 when the departments of Plant Pathology, Agronomy and Horticulture in the then-College of Agriculture were merged into the Department of Plant Science, now the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.  

There have been 25 professors of plant pathology in the 130 years since the founding of department. John Huberger, who was department chair from 1947-67, is the only other plant pathologist at UD to be honored by APS as a fellow.

To be elected an APS fellow, a nominee must make outstanding contributions in one or more of the following areas: original research, teaching and professional or public service. APS fellows are selected for exceptional accomplishments that have advanced the science of plant health through publications, teaching and public outreach and service.

About Tom Evans

Evans has been doing all of that for three decades at UD. As professor of plant pathology, he has established himself as a leader in the area of plant health and food security on local, national and international levels.

He has maintained robust research programs in support of Delaware’s vegetable processing industry and established international research projects in Ecuador, Morocco, Egypt, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. In 2010, Evans received President Obama’s Volunteer Service Award from the Bureau for Food Security for his thousands of hours of service to the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Feed the Future Program.

Evans has published more than 81 peer-reviewed papers, numerous extension publications and proceedings and has delivered numerous invited presentations and workshops both in the U.S. and abroad.  

For the past 20 years, Evans’ research group has worked on the etiology and management of downy mildew of lima bean, the cornerstone of the Delaware vegetable processing industry.

Evans’ findings have led to a better understanding of the race structure of the causal agent, Phytophthora phaseoli, and the nature of resistance in lima bean to this important pathogen.  This work, along with the development of a new online risk management tool for lima bean, has saved millions of dollars for the industry over that period.

Evans was an early leader in plant pathology outreach to K-12 classrooms and for five years led a group of plant pathologists providing workshops to science teachers throughout Delaware. Evans developed one of the first study abroad programs in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and led 10 programs to Ecuador and the Galapagos, serving more than 200 students.

Evans has been a member of APS since 1982, serving as the vice president, president and councilor of the Potomac Division of APS and was awarded its Distinguished Service Award in 2000.

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