Stakman, E.C. (Elvin Charles), 1885-1979

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Plant pathologist.

From the description of Reminiscences of Elvin Charles Stakman : oral history, 1970. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309738905

Elvin C. Stakman, B.A. (1906), M.A. (1910), Ph.D. (1913) University of Minnesota. Professor (1913-1953) and head of the Department of Plant Pathology (1940-1953), University of Minnesota. United States Department of Agriculture agent, head of the federal government's South American rubber expedition (1940-1941), consultant to the Rockefeller Foundation, member of the executive committee of the National Science Board, delegate to UNESCO, member of the advisory committee for biology and medicine for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (1947-1953). World renowned expert in the field of barberry eradication and cereal rust diseases.

From the description of Elvin C. Stakman papers, 1906-1977. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 502650041

Stakman was an agricultural specialist, educator, humanitarian, member of the University of Minnesota faculty (1909-1953), and consultant to The Rockefeller Foundation (1953-1979).

From the description of Papers, 1911-1969. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122617453

Elvin C. Stakman, B.A. (1906), M.A. (1910), Ph.D. (1913) University of Minnesota. Professor (1913-1953) and head of the Department of Plant Pathology (1940-1953), University of Minnesota. United States Department of Agriculture agent, head of the federal government's South American rubber expedition (1940-1941), consultant to the Rockefeller Foundation, member of the executive committee of the National Science Board, delegate to UNESCO, member of the advisory committee for biology and medicine for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (1947-1953). World renowned expert in the field of barberry eradication and cereal rust diseases.

E.C. Stakman was born May 17, 1885 in Algoma, Wisconsin to Frederick and Amelia Stakman. The family moved to Brownton, Minnesota when Stakman was five. When Stakman’s father died in the late 1890s, Stakman, his sister Edna, and his mother moved to St. Paul, where Amelia was employed as a teacher. Stakman graduated from Cleveland High School in East St Paul in 1902 and entered the University of Minnesota that same year. After graduating in 1906 with a degree in science, Stakman pursued a career in education, serving as a teacher, coach and ultimately superintendent of schools in Red Wing, Mankato and Argyle, Minnesota respectively.

Educational methods and philosophy would continue to be a part of Stakman’s professional writing and practice throughout his life, and he would act as a mentor to hundreds of students throughout the course of his long teaching career. Stakman returned to the University of Minnesota in 1909, where he entered the Ph.D. program in Plant Pathology. In 1911, he took a brief leave from the University to apprentice in the US Department of Agriculture, returning to the University to finish his doctorate in 1913. Stakman earned the first doctorate awarded in the University’s fledgling Plant Pathology Department, then titled the Department of Plant Pathology and Agricultural Botany. During the same year he became an Assistant Professor in the Department headed by his mentor and advisor Dr. E.M. Freeman.

In 1914, Stakman began his long professional association with the United States Department of Agriculture, heading rust epidemiology studies in the USDA Lab, and serving there in consultative capacities until 1955.

Appointed Instructor in Plant pathology in 1909, Stakman became Head of the Plant Pathology section in 1913. In addition to his classroom teaching, Stakman embarked on research that would define his career and influence two generations of plant scientists. In 1917, Stakman and several other scientists and field workers traveled to the American west and south to record the life cycle of wheat rusts. In 1918, Stakman was appointed by the US Department of Agriculture to head a national program aimed at eradicating the Common Barberry bush. The bush was critical to rust reproduction, and Stakman was charged with overseeing both the field component of eradication and public information about the initiative. Stakman continued to research, write and speak on wheat rust throughout his career, and it was listening to a Stakman lecture on wheat rust entitled “The Shifting Enemy” that influenced Norman Borlaug to switch from Forestry to Plant Pathology as his research focus in order to study with Stakman.

During his tenure at the University, Stakman traveled extensively as a visiting professor and consultant. In 1930, Stakman began a decade-long association with the Firestone Company. Stakman visited Liberia, and later northwestern South America surveying land and assessing the viability of reestablishing rubber plantations in their native environment. In 1941, Stakman joined the Rockefeller Foundation Survey Commission to study Mexican corn and wheat crops. The Commission’s findings and recommendations would lead to the establishment of the Mexican Agriculture Program (MAP) that formed the foundation for “Green Revolution” plant breeding practices. In the US, Stakman organized the Federal Cereal Rust Laboratory and participated in the establishment of International Rust Nurseries. Stakman was also appointed to the Atomic Energy Commissions Advisory Committee for Biology and Medicine from 1947-1953.

After retiring from the University in 1953 as professor emeritus, Stakman was hired by the Rockefeller Foundation as a Special Consultant for Agriculture, where he worked on science research and education institution-building. Stakman’s travels took him repeatedly to South Asia, East Asia, Europe, Central and South America, South Africa and Europe throughout the 1950s through the 1970s. E.C. Stakman authored over 300 scholarly articles and held a numerous offices in scientific organizations. He served in every significant position in the American Phytopathological Society, including President in 1922 and Associate Editor and Editor in Chief of the Association journal, Phytopathology, from 1916 to 1929. In 1948, he was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and served on the board of the National Science Foundation from 1950-1954 and as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission 1948-1954.

He received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Halle-Wittenberg, Yale, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Cambridge (England), and numerous honorary memberships in learned societies in the United States and abroad. In an appreciation of Stakman, published in 1979, a colleague noted that Stakman’s career was composed of three distinct facets: “…He was a superb scientific investigator; later he was a [powerful] teacher; and finally he was an international humanitarian.” (R.R. Nelson, Aurora Sporialis, May 17, 1979). The University of Minnesota recognized Stakman’s influence on the University and the field of plant pathology by naming the building housing Plant Pathology on the St Paul Campus Stakman Hall. The E.C. Stakman Award is given to a scientist from any country for achievement in plant pathology in the areas of teaching, research, outreach or international development.

Charles Elvin Stakman died in St Paul at the age of 93 on January 22nd, 1979.

From the guide to the Elvin C. Stakman papers, 1906-1977, (University of Minnesota Libraries. University of Minnesota Archives [uarc])

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf North Carolina State University. Dept. of Plant Pathology. North Carolina State University Dept. of Plant Pathology reprint collection, 1876-1973 [manuscript] North Carolina State University, NCSU Libraries
creatorOf OAC Review Index. Banish the common barberry / by E.C. Stakman, OAC Review, v.31, no.6, Feb. 1919, p.258-262. University of Guelph. McLaughlin Library
creatorOf Stakman, E. C. (Elvin Charles), 1885-1979. Elvin C. Stakman papers, 1906-1977. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Stakman, E. C. (Elvin Charles), 1885-1979. Reminiscences of Elvin Charles Stakman : oral history, 1970. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Biological Club papers, 1914-1970 University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives [uarc]
creatorOf Hart, Helen, 1900-1971. Helen Hart papers, 1917-1953. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Elvin C. Stakman papers, 1906-1977 University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives [uarc]
referencedIn North Carolina State University, Department of Plant Pathology Reprint Collection, 1876-1973 North Carolina State University. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn University of Minnesota. Dept. of Botany. University of Minnesota Dept. of Botany papers, 1847-1982, 1989. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn University of Minnesota. Dept. of Plant Pathology. Department of Plant Pathology and Physiology records, 1918-2007. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Stakman, E. C. (Elvin Charles), 1885-1979. Papers, 1911-1969. Rockefeller Archive Center, Rockefeller University, Pocantico Hills
referencedIn Department of Botany records, 1893-1989, (bulk 1921-1982) University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives [uarc]
referencedIn Records of the Agency for International Development. 1948 - 2003. Records Relating to the United Nations Conference on the Application of Science and Technology for the Benefit of the Less Developed Areas National Archives at College Park
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Hart, Helen, 1900-1971. person
associatedWith Madow, Pauline, person
associatedWith North Carolina State University. Dept. of Plant Pathology. corporateBody
associatedWith North Carolina State University. Dept. of Plant Pathology. corporateBody
associatedWith OAC Review Index. corporateBody
associatedWith Rockefeller Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Minnesota. Biological Club corporateBody
associatedWith University of Minnesota. Department of Botany. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Minnesota. Dept. of Botany. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Minnesota. Dept. of Plant Pathology. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Minnesota. Dept. of Plant Pathology. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Minnesota. Dept. of Plant Pathology. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Developing countries
Subject
Plant diseases
Plant parasites
Plant pathologists
Agricultural education
Food supply
Food supply
Grain
Green Revolution
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1885-05-17

Death 1979-01-22

Spanish; Castilian,

English,

German

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