James R. Steadman
James R. Steadman was born in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and worked in a family landscape business while attending Westlake High School and Hiram College. After graduating from Hiram with a B.A. degree in biology in 1964, he obtained an M.S. and Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, sponsored by an NIH Pre-doctoral Fellowship. Dr. Steadman began his position as an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1969 immediately after finishing his doctorate. He has remained at UN-L in a teaching/research appointment for the past 36 years, serving as acting department head for 2.5 years beginning in 2000. Dr. Steadman has been active in APS, serving in the Office of International Programs for the past 12 years, Office of Public Affairs and Education, officer and president of APS North Central Division, and Public Policy Board.
Dr. Steadman’s international career began when he was invited to present a lecture on the influence of plant architecture on diseases and consult with the bean program scientists at Centro International de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia, in 1978. From this interaction with CIAT scientists, the need for and opportunities to do research in the developing countries of the Americas became apparent. In 1979, an exploratory trip to the Dominican Republic was made to assess possibilities of establishing a USAID Collaborative Research Project there. Dr. Steadman was one of the initial group of bean scientists to work in what has become the Bean/Cowpea Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP), a unique component of the predominantly development-oriented USAID Agriculture Mission. The initial thrust of the Bean/Cowpea CRSP was in bilateral agreements with individual countries. Dr. Steadman worked with Dr. Dermot Coyne, a plant breeder/geneticist, along with Dr. James Beaver and other scientists at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez who were responsible for advances in bean and other research and training in the Dominican Republic. In the initial stages of the project, the research concept was not understood either by the Dominican Republic Ministry of Agriculture or the local USAID Mission. Dr. Steadman was a member of a delegation of USAID-Washington and Caribbean Region officials who, in 1989, negotiated successfully with the local USAID Mission to retain the Bean/Cowpea CRSP bean research effort in the Dominican Republic when Vol. 96, No. 1, 2006 29 macroeconomics was driving USAID officials to abandon portfolio objectives that supported local bean producers. It was through training of Dominican scientists, release of improved varieties with higher yields and development of disease management strategies that led to the Dominican Republic becoming selfsufficient in bean production in the late 1990s. Dr. Steadman through the Bean/Cowpea CRSP has been contributing to Dominican Republic agriculture for over 25 years. The UNL/ UPR CRSP project has trained two Ph.D. and 18 M.S. scientists who are now contributing to all aspects of Dominican agriculture. To recognize his role in these outstanding contributions, Dr. Steadman was presented the Award of Recognition by the Agricultural Producers of San Juan de la Maguana. Dr. Steadman is the only remaining principal investigator from the first Bean/Cowpea CRSP 5-year project 25 years ago and now serves as the chair of the Technical Committee that has oversight responsibilities of the research activities in East, West, and Southern Africa, as well as Latin America and the Caribbean, and he serves as chair of the LAC Regional project.
In a similar way, Dr. Steadman had a seminal role in Sclerotinia workshops. In 1974, he was one of four scientists who organized the first International Sclerotinia Workshop in Beltsville, MD, and has served on the organizing committee or was the organizer of the 12 additional workshops that were presented over the past 30 years, most recently in England and New Zealand and scheduled for Monterrey, CA in 2005. He is the only member of the first organizing committee who has continued work with Sclerotinia for 30 years and is still active. He also was a co-convener of the first Australasian Sclerotinia Workshop in Tasmania and has served as external examiner of Sclerotinia-related Ph.D. theses in Canada and Sweden. Dr. Steadman presently serves as chair of the Sclerotinia Subject Matter Committee of the International Society of Plant Pathology.
Dr. Steadman has dedicated 30 years to international research training and outreach. He has had an impact on in-country research infrastructure, research impact such as disease management strategies, disease resistant germ plasm and variety releases. In addition, the funding generated for this international research has had an impact on Nebraska and U.S. agriculture. For example, the nearly $3 million in USAID funding over the past 25 years has enabled the Nebraska bean breeding and disease management programs to continue to make contributions and impacts to local and national bean improvement. A rust resistant pinto variety released by UN-L was estimated at a $5 million value for the central high plains of the United States. Invited lectures and talks in places as distant as Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Sweden, England, South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, and Tanzania also have brought information to many foreign scientists.
Dr. Steadman has supervised 25 graduate and post-doctoral students, with over half of them from outside the United States. He also has taught a “Principles of Plant Pathology” course from an international perspective for the past 20 years. Short-term plant pathology training for scientists from developing countries has been conducted both in Dr. Steadman’s lab and at meetings/ workshops outside the United States.
In research, Dr. Steadman has contributed more than 100 journal articles and book chapters and more than 150 scientific articles and extension publications. A mobile nursery method was developed to simplify the tracking of bean rust pathogen races/ pathotypes in Africa and the Americas. Understanding the variation in virulence for bean rust, web blight, and white mold pathogens has led to disease management strategies such as resistance gene deployment that reduces losses in developed and developing countries. Recent research is focusing on population structure of the bean rust and web blight pathogens and coevolution of these pathogens with wild, weedy, and landrace Phaseolus spp.