Mike Ellis received his B.S. degree in education and M.S. degree in botany from Eastern Illinois University in 1971 and 1973, respectively. He then attended the University of Illinois, receiving his Ph.D. in plant pathology in 1976 and during that period spent 1 year at CIAT in Cali, Columbia, conducting research on seedborne fungi of dry bean. He then joined the faculty at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, as assistant professor to conduct research on seedborne fungi of tropical grain legumes and to teach tropical plant pathology. In 1979, Dr. Ellis joined the faculty of The Ohio State University at Wooster as assistant professor with responsibility for fruit crop diseases. He was promoted to associate professor in 1983 and professor in 1988. His current appointment is 55% research and 45% extension.
Dr. Ellis has established a nationally respected and innovative extension program on management of fruit crop diseases. He emphasizes the integrated use of disease resistance, biological and cultural control, disease epidemiology, and targeted fungicide use in disease management programs. His program is an excellent example of how an extension research appointment should function, in that he conducts problem-solving research that is directly useful to the fruit industry. His extension efforts have significantly increased the use of integrated disease management strategies by fruit growers in Ohio and throughout the Midwest. He developed and published disease management guidelines for apple, strawberry, brambles, and grapes. These have been distributed (by the North American Strawberry Growers Association and The North American Bramble Growers Association) to strawberry and bramble growers in Ohio and throughout the north central and other production regions. In recognition of this work, he received awards of appreciation from the Ohio Fruit Growers Society and The North American Strawberry Growers Association. His research on the management of strawberry fruit rot diseases is internationally recognized. In recognition of his excellence in research, he received the APS Ciba-Geigy Agricultural Achievement Award in 1988.
Dr. Ellis is known as a great communicator within the fruit crop community and uses a wide variety of traditional and innovative processes to disseminate information. Since 1994, he has worked closely with the communications section of OSU Extension to place all extension fact sheets and bulletins of the Department of Plant Pathology on the web. This has resulted in wide dissemination of disease management information through the Internet and has greatly facilitated the use of color figures for describing disease symptoms. Dr. Ellis’s educational programs have also emphasized a personal interaction with clients that include countless homeowners as well as commercial fruit growers. He is well known for his clear, organized, and uncluttered explanations on all aspects of fruit disease biology and control. He has made over 475 presentations at fruit schools, IPM workshops, county agent inservice training sessions, and master gardener training sessions within Ohio, and has presented over 85 invited presentations at extension programs across the United States and in other countries. He has authored over 500 papers in trade journals, fact sheets, extension bulletins, published proceedings, and technical reports. He has also produced numerous VHS tapes and slide sets, and contributes regularly to newsletters for tree fruit, small fruit, and grapes. In addition to these publications, he somehow has found time to write or cowrite 90 refereed journal articles.
Dr. Ellis maintains a strong commitment to multidisciplinary and regional cooperation in extension programs. In 1990, he worked closely with extension specialists in plant pathology, entomology, and horticulture in the Midwest Fruit Specialists Working Group to develop regional spray guides for commercial tree fruit and small fruit growers. These spray guides are revised annually, and Dr. Ellis continues to coordinate revision of the pathology sections. He also organized the development of the Midwest Small Fruit Pest Management Handbook, published in 1996, and co-edited the Midwest Tree Fruit Handbook, published in 1993. These publications complement the spray guides and are revised every 3 to 4 years. Together, these publications serve as the main sources of information on disease, insect, and weed management for fruit growers in 10 states across the Midwest. They are excellent examples of the multidisciplinary regional cooperation at which Dr. Ellis excels. The great importance of the Midwest Small Fruit Pest Management Handbook was recognized by the American Society of Horticultural Sciences, which awarded the authors the 1998 Extension Division Education Materials Award for Commercial Fruit, Vegetable, and Herb Production.
Extension specialists around the United States clearly consider Dr. Ellis as a major authority on fruit disease management and extension education. In the last few years he has expanded his geographic interests by serving as one of the leaders in the USAID-funded Integrated Pest Management Project in Ecuador. Here he contributes his knowledge to the improved management of fruit crop diseases in this country. His contributions were recently recognized at The Ohio State University when he received the Gamma Sigma Delta Award of Merit for Excellence in Extension. This award is given to only one person annually in the college.
Dr. Ellis has an outstanding record of service to his department and APS. He currently serves as extension coordinator for the department at Ohio State. Within APS, he is currently serving a second term on the Extension Committee and is a very active board member for the Office of Public Affairs and Education, representing the interests of extension. He has also served on the seed pathology, chemical control, and the new fungicide and nematicide data committees. He served as the small fruit and stone fruit section editor of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests, senior editor of the scientific journal Plant Disease, and was the organizing editor and one of the major writers for the Compendium of Raspberry and Blackberry Diseases and Insects.
Dr. Ellis is an exceptional colleague and extension specialist whose good humor, enthusiasm, and commitment are emblematic of our society and the Excellence in Extension Award.