Mohamed F. R. Khan was born in Guyana, South America, where he received his B.S. degree from the University of Guyana in 1984. He received his M.S. degree from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom in 1991 and his Ph.D. degree from Clemson University in the United States in 1998. From 1986 to 1995, he served as the coconut development officer and operations manager at the National Edible Oil Company in Guyana, where he implemented the successful rehabilitation of the coconut industry while managing Cedros wilt disease of coconut and oil palm. His efforts in this position resulted in Guyana becoming self-sufficient in edible oils. Since 1999, he has served as the extension sugarbeet specialist in a joint appointment at North Dakota State University (NDSU) and the University of Minnesota. He currently occupies this position, where he rose to the rank of associate professor in 2005 and professor in 2011.
Khan leads an exemplary extension program for the states of North Dakota and Minnesota. His target audience is comprised of growers, managers, and educators whose industry produces 60% of the U.S. beet sugar with a $4 billion total economic impact on the economies of the region. Since 1999, Khan has evaluated, developed, and implemented extension programs that have made significant contributions to the identified needs of North Dakotans and Minnesotans. He continuously monitors these needs through annual surveys and numerous meetings with growers and their representatives. He regularly updates and publishes the Sugarbeet Production Guide, used by all sugarbeet growers to provide current recommendations on all aspects of sugarbeet production. He produces circulars and bulletins that address specific issues and manages a website (www.sbreb.org) that serves as a repository for all grower-funded sugarbeet research. During the growing season, he provides updates through the Crop & Pest Report and his weekly Sugarbeet Radio Program, which airs on several radio stations in North Dakota and Minnesota from April through August. Clearly, Khan maintains outstanding communications with his clientele.
Khan’s extension program integrates teamwork, grower cooperation, research, and creativity. For example, Khan’s concept of using soil temperature to time fungicide application for managing Rhizoctonia solani is very novel and was originally based both on greenhouse and field research and is now widely implemented by sugarbeet growers. Another example and one of his highest impact programs involves the management of Cercospora leaf spot (CLS) caused by the fungus Cercospora beticola. In 1998, sugarbeet growers in North Dakota and Minnesota lost more than $113 million because of the devastation caused by C. beticola, which had developed resistance to the few fungicides available. Khan’s research determined the most efficacious fungicides for disease control and resistance management. He used his data in testimony to the EPA, resulting in Section 18 exemptions for the use of the fungicide Eminent for CLS control in North Dakota and Minnesota. Khan employed growers’ seminars, plot demonstrations, circulars, and the Sugarbeet Production Guide to educate growers on managing CLS and disseminated these extension experiences by publishing in the Journal of Extension. Since 1999, growers in North Dakota and Minnesota have successfully controlled CLS using Khan’s recommendations, resulting in a 40% reduction in fungicides and a savings of $14 million annually in crop protection costs with no adverse effect on yield.
Khan exemplifies the tripartite role of a land-grant university. His research, teaching, and educational programs have resulted in four book chapters, 40 peer-reviewed articles, and more than 300 publications on pest management. He has supervised three M.S. and one Ph.D. student, served on the committee of 19 graduate students, and hosted several visiting professors. He guest lectures on managing diseases of sugarbeet and tropical crops and served on departmental and university committees, including two terms as senator, Senate Executive Committee, Research Consulting Committee, Crops Planning Committee, Search Committees, and the Promotion, Tenure, and Evaluation Committee. He serves APS as an associate editor for Plant Disease and editor for the Row Crops section of Plant Disease Management Reporter. He is a reviewer for 12 other peer-reviewed journals and a long-standing member of the APS Chemical Control and Extension Committees and chair of the Extension Committee. He is the president-elect of Epsilon Sigma Phi at NDSU. He is a member of several other professional organizations, including the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, the International Institute of Beet Research, and ASA-CSSA-SSSA. He provides leadership as chair of the International Sugarbeet Institute, the largest sugarbeet trade show in the world, and secretary of the Sugarbeet Research and Educational Board of Minnesota and North Dakota, which funds more than $750,000 of research annually.
Khan’s excellent ability to communicate research-based recommendations is well known. Khan has given more than 75 invited and professional presentations in the United States and internationally, in countries such as Germany, France, Sweden, Turkey, Italy, Denmark, India, Morocco, Spain, and Italy. He presented the prestigious Raymond Hull Memorial Lecture at Broom’s Barn, United Kingdom, in 2009 and was a guest speaker at the British Beet Research Organization winter meeting in 2014. Khan participates in annual symposia to help growers in western states better understand and manage sugarbeet diseases. Through USAID, he has helped growers in Azerbaijan improved their production practices. Khan has provided leadership in the collection and determination of fungicide sensitivity of C. beticola isolates from the United States and Europe. He has undertaken research collaborations and developed an improved management model for CLS in Italy. In light of these contributions, Mohamed Khan has been recognized with several awards, including Distinguished Service by the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board of Minnesota and North Dakota, the Epsilon Sigma Phi Upsilon Chapter of North Dakota, the Lower Yellowstone River Valley Growers, the Western Sugar Growers (MT, CO, NE) Joint Research Committee, AGSCO Excellence in Extension Award for NDSU agriculture and extension faculty, and internationally by the National Association of Beet Growers (ANB) and the Institute of Research and Development in Agriculture (BETA), Italy.