Thaxter studied under W. G. Farlow, receiving a Ph.D. degree in natural history from Harvard in 1888. He was the first plant pathologist hired under the Hatch Act and became the first plant pathologist stationed at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. He described many diseases and discovered the cause of potato scab in 1890. Thaxter also designed a knapsack sprayer and was a pioneer in introducing fungicides into the United States, including one of the first used for control of a soilborne disease (onion smut). Thaxter returned to Harvard after three years at the experiment station and went on to become a world-renowned mycologist.
(Submitted for publication July 2008.)