One of the most significant ways to recognize outstanding contributions to the potato industry and to our organization, The Potato Association of America, is the awarding of Honorary Life Membership (HLM). This is the highest award bestowed upon an individual by the PAA. Each year at the Annual Meeting of the PAA this award is given to deserving individuals and is considered by many attendees the highlight of the banquet.
Raised on a farm in northern Illinois, John developed an early interest in biology and agriculture. After an undergrad degree in agronomy, he joined Bob Hanneman's program as a student at UW-Madison getting a PhD in the department of Horticulture's Plant Breeding and Genetics major. John "worked his way up" in the Genebank "company" from grad student to Bob's assistant (1985 - 1989), to USDA/ARS project leader stationed at Sturgeon Bay. John has served many years as the representative for potatoes in the national genebank system (NPGS) and as the chair of the national potato crop advisory committee (CGC).
His professional association has centered on PAA, attending all of the 41 annual meetings since 1983, presenting research at nearly every one, serving as Editor in Chief for 17 years, and publishing 83 of his 142 research papers in AJPR. PAA has been a perfect fit with the US Potato Genebank mission, since both aim to support all areas of research and breeding that contribute to potato crop improvement. John's wife Ingrid has been an essential partner in all this, attending 35 PAA meetings, participating in 11 germplasm collecting expeditions in the southwest USA, and numerous research projects across the US and in Peru. They have four grown children, and three grandsons; enjoy hobbies of biking and gardening.
Andy Jensen grew up a city kid in the Hollywood District of Portland, Oregon. He was known throughout the neighborhood as the weird kid who crawled through the flowers and bushes in all the yards on the block looking at the insects, spiders, plants, worms, and slugs. Years later (in 1988) he found himself a student at Oregon State University, meeting with the chair of the Entomology Department, desperate for a summer job that was anything other than washing dishes in the local breakfast and pie shop. Fortune had it that just the previous day Gary Reed, entomologist and director at the Hermiston branch station, had visited asking about undergrad students to hire for the summer. The connection was made, and a few months later Andy reported to Hermiston for his first day of work in potatoes. Toward the end of that first workday he was volunteered, together with Jonathan Whitworth, to help plant the seed lot trial with Oscar Gutbrod and Luther Fitch.
With the generous and kind support of Gary Reed, Luther Fitch, Jack Lattin, Russ Ingham, Mary Powelson, Manya Stoetzel, and many others, Andy completed a B.S. (1990) and Ph.D. (1996) in entomology. His graduate assistantship was paid for through potato insect management grants from the Oregon Potato Commission and USDA, the focus being aphids and the viruses they transmit to potato, i.e., PVY and PLRV. Part of this work was becoming a self-taught aphid taxonomist and natural historian, leading to a Ph.D. dissertation of pure systematics.
A postdoc with the U.S. national collection of insects in Maryland led to three years away from potato, where Andy published systematics works on aphids and whiteflies, including the first ever computerized cladistic analyses of both groups.
Needing a permanent job, preferably back west near home and family, the Washington State Potato Commission took a risk and hired him as their first Director of Research in May 1999. A text-book introvert at heart, Andy was encouraged and supported in his new role by co-workers and board members at the commission, local potato researchers and extension agents, and industry experts especially Ed Schneider, Lynn Olsen, Verla Steffler, Bob Thornton, Gary Pelter, Dennis Johnson, Debbie Inglis, Alan Schreiber, Chuck Brown, Mel Martin, and Dallas Batchelor. Success in this position would not have been possible without the warm welcome of the Washington potato community.
In 2012 the state potato commissions of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington took the leap to establish a formal cooperation in research coordination and funding, hiring Andy as sole staff person, and naming it the Northwest Potato Research Consortium. Andy felt gratitude for the faith in his ability shown by the commissions and key individuals including Chris Voigt, Bill Brewer, Pat Kole, and Bob Halvorson Jr.
Work for the commissions has been diverse, satisfying, and engaging. In addition to the core work of coordinating the research funding process, Andy worked on other issues including pesticide registration, phytosanitary barriers, industry outreach and education, managing insect monitoring programs, and creating insect and disease identification cards (fondly referred to by commission staff as “bug cards”). He was also honored to serve for 10 years as board member of the Washington State Commission on Pesticide Registration. Together with Bill Brewer and Pat Kole, Andy was a founding board member and officer of the Potato Variety Management Institute (PVMI). Following the retirement of Bob Thornton, Andy took on co-chair duties of the Washington-Oregon Potato Conference general session.
From the summer of 1999 Andy was drawn into service of the Potato Association of America, first as member of the site selection committee, then chair of that committee, through leadership positions of the plant protection committee, and finally he was nominated and (to his great surprise) elected to Vice President and President (2014-15).
Andy has been able to maintain a strong publication record, with 65 peer-reviewed papers, just over half of which are in potato pest management, the remainder being aphid systematics and natural history (which he does as a hobby). Most of these potato-related papers arose from generous and valued collaborations with entomologists in Washington, especially Bill Snyder, Dave Horton, Rodney Cooper, and Joe Munyaneza.
Somehow, through it all, Andy’s two sons (Hayden and Isaac) survived their childhoods and the many days and nights their father was away from home for work. This survival was due to their own resilience plus the support of Andy’s significant others and especially the remarkable daycare providers whose doors were open 24/7/365. After 24 years of it, travel has lost its appeal and Andy now prefers to stay close to home, cultivating a garden, connecting with nature, pedaling his bikes, collecting aphids, and helping his two dogs have good lives.
Loretta grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. She received her Bachelor of Science (Agr) in 1981 and Master of Science in 1983 from the University of Guelph. In 1989, Loretta earned her Doctor of Philosophy (Horticulture) from the University of Alberta.
She began her career at Washington State University as an Assistant Professor, then moved back to Canada in 1998 to become the Provincial Potato Physiologist for the Province of New Brunswick. During her 20 year career in Canada she conducted grower-based research on seed physiology, growth hormones and seed performance, and seedpiece storage and temperature treatments. Her extension work included the Total Potato Production Sites project that followed crop, pest and weather data for the potato growing regions of New Brunswick throughout the growing season. The data were communicated to the growers on a daily basis. This program won the PAA Extension Project of the Year in 2014. Loretta published numerous refereed articles, proceedings, abstracts, extension bulletins, magazine articles and industry reports.
She wrote a book chapter in The Potato: Botany, Production and Uses (2014) – Tuber Physiological Disorders.
Loretta served eight years as PAA Secretary (2006-2013), Vice-President (2013-2014), President-Elect (2014-2015), President (2015-2016), and Past-President (2016-2017). She was the Chair of the LAC for the 2009 PAA Annual Meeting in Fredericton, NB. Loretta also participated in PAA sections: Physiology; Extension, Production & Management; Utilization & Marketing.
She is an avid fly fisher, gardener and enjoys cross-stitching. Loretta is enjoying her retirement and loves to escape the cold New Brunswick winters with world travels to warm countries with her husband Robert Gareau.
Rich Novy spent the majority of his lifetime in the Pacific Northwest. He was born and lived his first five years in Lakeview & Paisley, Oregon, and was then raised in Concrete, Washington, and spent the majority of his potato breeding career in Aberdeen, Idaho. Following his high school graduation from Concrete High School (yes, there really is a Concrete High School which is unique for having a street running underneath it!), he attended Washington State University. He started out majoring in Agronomy but found the uniformity of agronomic crops not to his liking and eventually switching to Horticulture with its diversity of crops. He obtained his B.S. in Horticulture (1986) at Washington State University and was fortunate to have Larry Hiller as his advisor, whose guidance and mentoring were important in his life, both while as an undergraduate student at WSU, as well as during Rich’s tenure as President of PAA. Rich pursued his graduate training at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he obtained his M.S. (1988) and Ph.D. (1992) in Plant Breeding and Genetics under the guidance of Bob Hanneman (M.S.) and John Helgeson (Ph.D.). Both his graduate degrees involved potato research and he fell in love with the crop, as well as with a vivacious, fellow graduate student named Elissa, who he married in 1991. Rich thanks Elissa for her encouragement and support of his career over years, and most especially her love.
Rich and Elissa both found jobs in 1992 conducting breeding and genetics research in blueberries and cranberries at Rutgers University. It was there in NJ that their first daughter, Rebecca, was born. Rich returned to his favorite crop, potatoes, as a breeder at North Dakota State University, and their second daughter, Jenna, was born in Fargo. In 1999, Rich began his position as a research geneticist with the Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen, Idaho. While in Idaho, Rich has had the good fortune to work with exceptional researchers as part of the Northwest (Tri-State) Potato Variety Development Program. Much of his success as a potato breeder directly relates back to the collaborative team effort of his colleagues (both current and past) at ARS-Aberdeen and Prosser, Washington State University, University of Idaho, and Oregon State University, as well as his industry collaborators. He also would like to recognize his exceptional potato project staff at Aberdeen, Idaho, who have also contributed directly to the success of the potato breeding program, with special acknowledgements of the long-term contributions of Brian Schneider, Darren Hall, and Mark Fristad.
During his 28 years as a potato breeder, Rich’s research has emphasized potato germplasm and variety development with emphasis on incorporating disease and pest resistances, enhancing tuber quality attributes such as resistance to cold-induced sweetening and tuber greening, improving nutrient efficiencies, and enhancing the nutritional qualities of potato for consumers. During his career, Rich contributed to the release of 47 potato varieties, most notably ‘Alturas’, ‘Clearwater Russet’, ‘Mountain Gem Russet’ and ‘Teton Russet’, as well as ‘Becca Rose’ which was named (with the blessing of his Tri-State colleagues) after his two daughters. He has also presented his research at numerous academic and industry meetings and has authored/co-authored 98 peer-reviewed publications.
Rich attended his first PAA meeting in 1988 at Fort Collins, CO as a graduate student and has served as secretary (1997), vice-chair (1998), and chair (1999) of the Breeding and Genetics section of the PAA, as well as on the Graduate Student Awards Committee. He served as Director on the Executive Committee of the PAA (2013-15) and was chair of the PAA Site Selection Committee from 2014-2017. Rich also served the PAA as Vice-President (2017), President-Elect (2018) and as President (2019). Since 2007, he has been a senior editor for the American Journal of Potato Research.
Rich has regularly attended the PAA annual meetings with his family and enjoys the research presentations as well as the time spent with other attendees. There truly is a feeling of a family reunion when PAA members meet for the annual meeting! The PAA is a remarkable organization and Rich is honored and humbled to have received the HLM award and he thanks the HLM committee members for the award, Jonathan Whitworth for submission of the HLM nomination, and Nora Olsen, Mike Thornton, Mark Pavek, and Walter De Jong for their letters of support.
Carl grew up in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, a small college town in the suburbs of Philadelphia. His father was a math professor at Swarthmore College and his mother was a botanist, working in the biology labs at the college as a teaching assistant. After high school, Carl was fortunate to be able to spend ten months in Cork, Ireland in 1971 with his family where his father had a sabbatical leave to teach at University College Cork. It was during this experience that Carl decided to learn more about farming. He spent 8 months working on a dairy and potato farm on the outskirts of Cork. He helped on the potato harvest (picking up potatoes by hand) with other high school students and learned how to drive a tractor and milk cows. He spent the winter months hand packing the potatoes in an unheated shed. The potatoes were then sent to local markets. Little did he know at the time that his academic career would largely focus on potato nutrient management in Minnesota.
After returning to the U.S. in 1972, he spent one year at Hobart and William Smith College, but then transferred to Pennsylvania State University to learn more about farming and vegetable production. He earned a BS in Horticulture there in 1976 and then stayed on to earn an MS degree in Horticulture in 1978 with Dr. Ernest Bergman. His research at Penn State focused on interactions between virus infection and plant nutrient composition in snap beans. He was encouraged to pursue a Ph.D. degree but was torn between plant pathology and soil science. In the end, he was accepted into a Ph.D. program at the University of California, Davis to pursue a degree in Soil Science with Dr. Robert Carlson, a soil chemist. Dr. Carlson was housed in the Department of Pomology and worked on the nutrition of fruit trees. During his Ph.D., Carl conducted research on causes for potassium deficiency in prune tree orchards, a problem associated with both soil and tree fruiting characteristics. He received his Ph.D. in 1983 and was hired by the University of Minnesota in a joint extension and research appointment with the Departments of Soil Science and Horticultural Science. His responsibilities were to develop a research and extension program on nutrient management for horticultural crop production in Minnesota. Over the years, he conducted research on a variety of fruit and vegetable crops, but irrigated potato production was the one cropping system that allowed him to consistently support his research program and extension activities thanks to industry, state, and federal funding.
At the time Carl arrived in Minnesota, potato production was transitioning from dryland production in the Red River Valley on fine-textured silty clay loam soils to irrigated production on coarse-textured loamy sand to sandy loam soils. While irrigated production resulted in higher potato yield and quality, it was not without its challenges. Potatoes are a shallow rooted crop with a high nutrient demand, particularly for nitrogen. This, coupled with unpredictable rainfall on soils with low water holding capacity resulted in an increased potential for nitrate leaching. Nitrate concentrations in shallow aquifers as a result were increasing and practices to improve nitrogen use efficiency were needed as mandated by the 1989 State of Minnesota Ground Water Protection Act.
To address this problem, his research program was directed towards finding ways of maintaining profitable potato production while minimizing nitrate losses. Multiyear studies that investigated nitrogen rate, timing, and source were initiated in the early 1990s and showed that split applications, use of petiole analysis to time nitrogen applications through fertigation, and use of polymer coated urea could reduce but not eliminate nitrate leaching on these vulnerable soils. Subsequent studies showed that better irrigation management and use of remote sensing of crop nitrogen status could also reduce nitrate leaching. Soil borne diseases that limit root growth can have a profound effect on the ability of potato roots to take up nutrients. His research showed that use of fumigation can improve nitrogen uptake and use efficiency, but the long-term effects of fumigation on soil biology still require further investigation. While the dominant variety grown in Minnesota is still Russet Burbank, Carl has worked with several potato breeders to identify cultivars that may be more efficient in their nitrogen use. In addition to his nitrogen research, Carl has also worked extensively on the unpredictable response that potatoes show to phosphorus fertilization even on soils that test high in phosphorus. Reasons for this response remain a mystery and is an area of active research. More recently Carl led a national effort to learn more about ways of improving soil health in potato cropping systems. In 2018, he was the Project Director of a $8 million, 5-year USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Project with 24 collaborators from 10 major potato producing states in the U.S. A major goal of the project was to identify management strategies that can enhance soil health and potato yields. Long-term plots have been established and the research is ongoing. Many of his potato research results have been published in peer-reviewed journals and well as in extension bulletins.
At the suggestion of his colleague Dr. Keith Kelling at the University of Wisconsin, Carl joined the Potato Association of America in 1993 and has been an active member ever since. He served as Secretary (2003), Vice Chair (2004) and Chair (2005) of the Production and Management Section. He organized the Production and Management section symposium for the 2005 meetings in Calgary on Best Management Practices for Nutrients and Irrigation. He has also been an invited speaker at three other PAA symposia: Potato Phosphorus Management and Utilization (2012), Mitigation of Acrylamide (2015) and Soil Health in Potato Production Systems (2023). He is a reviewer for the American Journal of Potato Research and has published several papers in that journal, some of which have been cited over 100 times.
He has taken on leadership roles at the University of Minnesota where he served as Interim Head of the Horticultural Science Department in 2002-2003, Interim Associate Dean of Extension in 2008, and Head of the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate from 2010 to 2023. Carl is also active in the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). He was elected fellow of ASA in 2015 and SSSA in 2016. However, his passion remains with potato nutrient management research and working with the potato industry to produce potatoes in the most sustainable manner possible.