William E. Dolezal was born in Omaha, NE, and received his B.S. degree in biology from Rockhurst College, Kansas City, MO, in 1974. He received his M.S. degree in plant pathology at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville in 1977. His forest pathology research on the phenology of comandra blister rust (Cronartium comandrae) in Arkansas was under the guidance of F. H. Tainter. Dolezal received a Ph.D. degree in 1982 from Arkansas working on take-all disease of wheat (now known as Gaeumannomyces graminis var. tritici). It was during this period, under the direction and mentoring of John Paul Jones (Department of Plant Pathology) and Fred C. Collins (Department of Agronomy), that Dolezal developed his life-long passion for identifying host disease resistance and plant breeding.
In January 1981, he began his career with Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. as a research plant pathologist at Pioneer’s Union City, TN, corn research center. His responsibilities included providing pathology support for Pioneer’s corn breeding programs in the south and eastern United States, as well as programs in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. He also provided support for Pioneer’s sorghum, soybean, and wheat programs. His professional development as a plant pathologist working in an international seed company is due to the excellent early guidance he received from his early bosses and from many Pioneer colleagues. Special acknowledgment is owed to two of Pioneer’s plant pathologists, Daniel R. Wilkinson and James A. Berry, both now retired, who were excellent mentors and friends to “the new kid.” Dolezal was promoted to a research coordinator in 1994 and transferred to Pioneer’s Research Headquarters in Johnston, IA, where he still resides to date. In 2001, he was promoted to a research fellow-plant pathology. During his career, his maize research areas have included working with many of the worldwide viral diseases of maize, developing resistant germplasm for gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, all three maize rusts, anthracnose stalk rot, the major ear molds, and their mycotoxins.
Under Dolezal’s leadership, the diagnostic activities of Pioneer’s plant pathology group became ISO: 9001 accredited in 1999. This was followed in August 2002 with Pioneer becoming an accredited entity for corn phytosanitary activities under the provisions of the USDA APHIS PPQ National Seed Health System. In 2005, this accreditation was expanded to include phytosanitary activities on other crops: soybean, sorghum, and sunflower. He has been an invited participant in several APS professionalism/service/outreach programs on quality management systems and phytosanitary issues. He has also been an instructor on corn disease identification and phytosanitary field inspections both internally within Pioneer and with several state phytosanitary regulatory agencies. He recently expanded his research efforts with Pioneer’s corn breeders on improving the mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTL) of useful disease resistance genes in propriety germplasm. He is also serving to coordinate Pioneer’s worldwide maize pathology programs and continuous efforts to improve worldwide monitoring systems.
Dolezal has been an active member of APS for more than 30 years, serving on numerous APS committees. Recent activities include serving on the APS Industry Committee and as an APS industry representative on the APS Public Policy Board (2006–2009), presenting the industry’s viewpoint at the APS 2009 National Workshop on the Future of Education in Plant Pathology and Other Disciplines. He has given several presentations on career opportunities in industry to the APS Early Career Professionals Committee. He also served as a voice for the APS industry members at the 2007 and 2009 APS Culture Collection Workshops and currently serves on the APS Collections and Germplasm Committee and on the ad hoc committee APS/ISF collaboration on codification of plant races and strains. His current service also includes membership in the APS Advisory Committee on Plant Biosecurity, and he has given several presentations at annual and regional APS meetings regarding the role private industry has in crop biosecurity. He has been involved in efforts to enhance greater public/private collaboration for monitoring new and emerging plant pathogens. He has provided industry testimony in support of continued funding of USDA’s PIPE program for Asian soybean rust and Southern corn rust. He has been involved in the development and reviewing of the Philippine Downy Mildew and Brown Stripe Downy Mildew of Corn and Late Wilt of Corn Recovery Plans under the National Plant Disease Recovery System (NPDRS), a Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-9). In addition to his APS activities, he has recently served as chair of the American Seed Trade Association’s Phytosanitary Committee and continues to serve as a plant pathologist on the USDA Maize Crop Germplasm Committee. He has been an active collaborator in the USDA’s Germplasm Enhancement of Maize Program and also served as a technical reviewer in several USDA-ARS national program reviews.
Bill and his wife, Sue, are parents to Paul D. and Andrea L. Dolezal. Sue and Bill have new titles to their names, grandparent, made possible by the recent birth of their granddaughter, Audrey. Bill’s other interests include working with youth via teaching Junior Achievement, and service with the Boy Scouts, especially hiking and backpacking activities, including three- to 50-mile backpacking trips. Besides his family, Bill’s other love is for railroading. He and fellow APS member and Iowa State University Professor John H. Hill currently serve on the Iowa Historical Railroad Society Foundation Board, and are active as conductor and locomotive engineer (respectively) on the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad in Boone, IA.