2006 Honorary Life Member Selections

clip_image002_004DR. MELVIN R. HENNINGER

Dr. Melvin R. Henninger’s service to the potato industry and his contributions and commitment to the PAA make him extremely worthy of Honorary Life Membership recognition.

Mel’s involvement in the potato industry dates back to his childhood where he grew up on a Pennsylvania potato farm. Since then his professional life has been devoted primarily to potatoes. His Ph.D. dissertation dealt with production management and storage treatments on potato chip color and reducing sugars. He earned his BS. MS and Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. He joined Rutgers University in 1972 with responsibilities for the potato cultural practices research and extension program in New Jersey. He currently continues in that capacity, having served as Department Chair, Horticulture and Forestry (1981-1991).

In addition to addressing the research and extension need of New Jersey growers, Mel has been a valuable resource to potato growers, and university and industry personnel throughout North America. In 1993. Penn State utilized his talents by appointing him to a two year 20% extension appointment. He still maintains an adjunct professor appointment at Penn State.

Dr. Henninger has a long history in evaluating clones from potato breeding programs throughout eastern US and Canada. As one of the initiators of the Northeastern Regional Project 1014 for potato variety development, he has established himself as a leader in collecting and summarizing regional yield and quality data. This information has been and is critical to potato breeders. He is a major collaborator in potato breeding programs at the USDA, Cornell, University of Maine and North Carolina State and has cooperated with other programs throughout the US and Canada. His efforts in evaluating clones from numerous programs have contributed in the release of the chip stock and table stock cultivars adapted to the eastern production areas.

His cooperative attitude, basic crop knowledge and can-do approach makes him a valuable asset to potato research and extension staff up and down the East coast and beyond.

Mel has been an active member of the PAA since 1972. He rarely, if ever. has missed an annual meeting. His supportive wife, Dilys and their children, David and Lisa, in their younger years. were also involved in meeting activities. Mel is an active member of the Extension and Teaching; Production and Management: and Physiology sections. He has served on the Board of Directors (1980-81. 1992-94). and the Audit (1973-82) and Membership (1973-86) Committees. He was elected Vice President in 1996 and elevated to President in 1998. These were important transitional years for our society and Mel’s leadership and commitment helped make key decisions for the organization.

Mel chaired the 1999 PAA local arrangements committee, which resulted in a very effective and enjoyable meeting. This was no small task since Rutgers has very few individuals working on potatoes. Mel’s work ethic, his versatility, and persuasive nature contributed to the success of the meeting.

In addition to Mel’s potato-related associations he is active in other horticultural/agricultural endeavors. He is presently serving as Educational Program Chair of the New Jersey Vegetable Growers Annual Meeting. In the community, he has chaired both the Shade Tree Commission and the Planning Board for East Windsor Township. He has served as an Elder and Financial Secretary of the First Presbyterian Church of Hightstown. In his spare time. Mel enjoys hunting, deep sea fishing and culinary evaluation of lobsters and other crustations.

Joseph B. Sieczka, Nominator

clip_image002_005MELVIN E. MARTIN

Mel Martin was born June 1 1942, at Astoria Oregon and raised on a dry-land wheat ranch near Madras, OR and later near lone, Oregon. He attended the lone Grade and High Schools and had dreams of being a farmer. Upon high school graduation, Mel attended Oregon State University and in 1964 received a BS in Agriculture, majoring in Ag Engineering, with a minor in Business Administration. Mel found these to be the good years at OSU because the football team went to the Rose Bowl, Terry Baker received the Heisman Trophy, and the OSU basketball team went to the final four. On Dec 19, 1964 Mel married his one and only, Shawlene at Albany Oregon. They presently have 5 children and 10 grandchildren.

Mel is presently Manager of Raw Product Development in the Columbia Basin of Washington for the JR Simplot Co. and his responsibilities include: new variety selection and development, development of new techniques for potato production and storage for processing to improve value. Mel is also responsible for transferring information to many other team members. Prior to his job with Simplot, Mel was Manager of Raw Product Development (1997-2000) and Field Department Manager (1973-1997) for Nestle-Carnation covering the Columbia Basin. Early in his career, Mel worked as a Potato Specialist for the P J Taggares Co. in Othello, WA and as a Crop Consultant for American Cyanamid and AgriManagement in the Pacific Northwest.Mel has been an essential component of the Washington and U.S. potato industry for the past thirty-nine years and dedicated much of his career to the potato processing industry working for Carnation, Nestle, and Simplot. He holds a wealth of knowledge and shares it freely amongst his industry colleagues. His expertise is vast and has afforded him global recognition, travel, and participation in many foreign projects. Besides the U.S., Mel has assisted on projects in Mexico, Canada, Poland, Chile, Argentina, China, and Tasmania. Mel’s contributions are tangible byproducts of his passion for potatoes and the science that surrounds their production.

Mel has been instrumental in the development and naming of several potato varieties, particularly Ranger Russet. Despite early indications of severe blackspot bruising, Mel saw the processing potential of Ranger and helped introduce this now-popular variety to the industry. Since the inception of the Tri-State and Regional Potato Variety Development programs, Mel has been an involved and vocal industry participant. Locally, Mel has been an active participant on the Washington State Potato Commission Research Council and Washington State Potato Conference and Trade Show Committee across the past twenty years.

Through his involvement in a multitude of growing regions and production systems, he’s developed the ability to decipher the complex relationship between plants, soils, system inputs, and man. In an effort to teach the world how to grow potatoes, Mel developed a model that utilizes the mechanics of an automobile to explain potato growth and development. Through this model, it becomes easy for the novice to understand the complex interaction of seed, water, fertilizer, light, and soil in the process of producing a high quality tuber. Mel joined the PAA in 1970 and has since attended 25 annual PAA conferences. Presently he is active in many PAA Sections including Breeding and Genetics, Certification, Extension and Teaching, Physiology, Production and Management, Plant Protection, and Utilization and Marketing. He served and was active on several Local Arrangement Committees and has held the office of chair for the Utilization and Marketing Section.

Coupled with his experience and generosity, Mel has provided farmers and other industry personnel with tools and education they need to tackle complex issues and succeed in today’s business environment. As the support letters for this nomination indicate, many industry icons volunteered their time to support and honor Mel for his achievements and contributions to the world’s potato industry. The nomination team is pleased that the Potato Association of America now recognizes Melvin E. Martin as an Honorary Life Member.

Mark J. Pavek, Nominator

clip_image002_006DR. H.W. (BUD) PLATT

H.W. (Bud) Platt was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and was raised in a mixed farming area of western Canada. His research career began in 1968 when he was engaged in technical work with the Canadian Department of Agriculture, Cereal Research Center, in Winnipeg. There, scientific studies on the development of stored grain disease and pest damage in prairie climates led to his desire to develop new research initiatives as well as work with other researchers. He furthered his scientific education in plant pathology in Winnipeg (University of Manitoba) and in Saskatoon (University of Saskatchewan) and participated in a post-doctorate fellowship at the University of Guelph, Ontario. His post-graduate and post-doctoral research involved epidemiology of various native grass and cultivated cereal crop diseases as well as mechanisms for bio-control of myco-toxin producing pathogens. Having acquired the necessary education, he again took a research scientist position with the Canadian Department of Agriculture (now Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) but at the Charlottetown Research Center on Prince Edward Island. From 1978 to the present time, Dr. Platt has conducted research on potato diseases and their control most particularly involving late blight and Verticillium wilt of potatoes.

Dr. Bud Platt is recognized nationally and internationally for his research and training activities in potato pathology. His scientific investigations have covered aspects of pathogen population dynamics, pathogen biology, host-pathogen interactions, etiology, epidemiology, integrated disease management, host resistance, chemical control, and molecular biology technologies. These contributions have enhanced quality potato production systems and national and international collaborative research outputs and opportunities. Dr. Platt has initiated, directed and/or participated in national collaborative potato research projects with colleagues from federal, provincial, university and producer and industry organizations in all provinces of Canada. Dr. Platt has worked on phytosanitary and potato trade issues with the United States, Europe, and with various Mediterranean and Latin American countries.

The Potato Association of America has been a very important part of Dr. Platt’s career and family life since 1979. He has been an active member and/or chair of the pathology — plant protection, breeding and certification sections. He has served on various standing and ad-hoc committees and from 1997 to 2003 he was member of the executive committee. From 2000-2003, Dr. Platt served the PAA during the four year presidency term. Dr. Platt also contributed to the association’s American Journal of Potato Research. Since 1981 he has been a reviewer and since 1988 a senior editor of the journal while from 1998 — 2003, Dr. Platt served as Editor-in-Chief of the American Joumal of Potato Research. In addition, he hosted the 1997 and co-hosted the 1981 annual conference in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Advancement of science in the area of potatoes and potato diseases has also been important to Dr. Platt who through his adjunct professor positions in four Canadian and two international universities has provided training (PhD, MSc, BSc, etc.) and research project participation for more than 60 students. He has developed and successfully completed 37 national and international projects (total funding >$10 million) and involving the management of more than 80 scientific and technical staff. Some of Dr. Platt’s other scientific activities include Chair and member of the Global Initiative on Late Blight Steering Committee (Lima, Peru), membership and/or conference host in the Agricultural Institute of Canada, Canadian Phytopathology Society, American Phytopathology Society, European Potato Research Association, International Society of Plant Pathology and sabbaticals and work transfers to China, The Netherlands and Latin America. He has published more than 80 scientific and 250 technical publications, 23 books and chapters, 3 review articles and more than 100 scientific and 125 technical presentations.

In addition to these professional activities, Bud and his wife Shirley have participated in many PAA ‘special’ activities at the annual conference as well as other associated meetings. They also have experimented with new activities for PAA members; bungy jumping in New Zealand as well as sky diving and white-water rapids boating in Canada which often leaves their two daughters and three grandchildren wonder ‘what’s next’.

Edwin S. Plissey, Nominator

clip_image002_007DR. JOSEPH R. SOWOKINOS

It is with great honor and pleasure that Dr. Ed Lulai and I nominate Dr. Joseph R. Sowokinos for Honorary Life Membership in the Potato Association of America. I have followed Joe’s work for 20 years and have worked with Joe for 15; while Ed has worked with Joe for more than 25 years. Individuals honored by receiving the prestigious award of Honorary Life Membership to the Potato Association of America are those having made profound contributions to our national potato industry. Dr. Joseph R. Sowokinos has made such contributions to our potato industry by his demonstrated scholarship in the fields of potato biochemistry through carbohydrate metabolism research, outreach to industry and academia, service to industry, and for leadership in the PAA. Based on accomplishments in these areas, Joe is most deserving of this prestigious honor.

Joe received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of North Dakota specializing in biochemistry. He is currently professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota and is adjunct professor in the Department of Horticultural and Forestry at North Dakota State University. He has been a member of the Potato Association of America (PAA) for several years and has served as director, sponsored symposia and workshops dealing with potato processing and quality from storage. He has served as Associate Editor of the American Journal of Potato Research and is currently on the Editorial Board of the European Journal, Potato Research. He has published over 65 scientific papers and has written four chapters related to carbohydrate metabolism in potatoes, related to chip and fry processing quality. Joe developed a monitoring tool, designated CMM, to measure the ‘chemical maturity’ of chipping potatoes that is used widely by the industry. For his efforts to screen potato germplasm for superior processing traits, he was presented with the North-American Potato Researcher of the Year Award by the National Potato Council in 1992.

Christian A. Thill and Edward Lulai, Nominator