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John C. Rupe
John Clark Rupe was born in Elkhart, Indiana. His interest in plant pathology was sparked during his studies at Goshen College, where he received a B.A. in Biology in 1973. He received a B.S. in Plant Pathology from Colorado State University in 1978, and transitioned to the University of Kentucky for his graduate work. There, he received an M.S. (1981) and Ph.D. (1984) in Plant Pathology. His Ph.D. research, conducted under the guidance of Dr. R. S. Ferris, focused on the epidemiology of soybean diseases. Rupe joined the faculty of the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Arkansas in 1984, where he was promoted through the academic ranks to his current position of Professor.
Rupe has dedicated his professional career to studying diseases of soybean, and is a respected authority on soil borne soybean diseases. His research has focused on understanding ecological, environmental, and epidemiological components of soybean diseases, with an emphasis on translating discoveries into improved host resistance.
Although his research contributions are numerous, Rupe is probably best known for his pioneering work on soybean sudden death syndrome. First identified in Arkansas in 1971, sudden death syndrome is now endemic throughout U.S. and international soybean growing regions, and persists as one of the most problematic diseases affecting soybean production. One of Rupe’s early and most noteworthy accomplishments was identifying
(later taxonomically reclassified as
) as the causal agent of sudden death syndrome. This discovery resolved lingering uncertainty about sudden death syndrome, and provided the research community key information and techniques to make a challenging disease more tractable for the broader research community. Rupe’s research program also provided a thorough analysis of environmental factors and interactions influencing incidence and severity of sudden death syndrome, including exacerbation of the disease via interaction with soybean cyst nematode. Rupe’s ground-breaking work on sudden death syndrome filled critically important knowledge gaps, and provided conceptual guidance for decades of subsequent studies into the genetic and molecular basis of the disease.
Beyond his work with sudden death syndrome, Rupe has also actively studied foliar and seedling diseases of soybean. When Asian soybean rust was first detected in the continental U.S. in 2004, Rupe took a leadership role in national monitoring activities, and received the John White Arkansas Division of Agriculture Team Award in recognition of his efforts. Rupe’s research program has also contributed important information regarding many other soybean diseases, including Phomopsis seed decay, frogeye leaf spot, purple seed stain, charcoal rot, and seedling diseases caused by oomycete pathogens.
Additionally, Rupe has worked closely with soybean breeders throughout his professional career. These collaborations have resulted in the registration of numerous soybean cultivars, including ‘Ozark’ and ‘Osage’, which are popular among soybean producers in the Southeastern U.S. Evidence of Rupe’s research productivity is reflected in the authorship of 59 peer-reviewed research articles and 20 book chapters. Rupe’s research program has received grant support from federal agencies, commodity groups, and industry sponsors totaling more than $3,300,000.
Rupe has tirelessly served the international community of plant pathologists. His propensity for service is evidenced most clearly by his extensive participation and leadership within the American Phytopathological Society. Rupe co-edited the 4th and 5th editions of the Soybean Disease Compendium, which is a popular resource for soybean researchers worldwide, and served as a Senior Editor of Plant Disease from 2001 to 2006. Rupe has served (and is still currently serving) on numerous APS committees, of which he has chaired several. Rupe has also Co-Chaired the Melhus Graduate Student Symposium and serves on the Phytopathology News Advisory Board. Notably, Rupe served on the Ad Hoc Committee on APS Governance from 2008 to 2010, during which time he helped to rewrite the structure of governance within APS – a major undertaking. In addition to these activities, Rupe has been a perennial leader within the Southern Division of the American Phytopathological Society, having served as President, Program Chair and Vice President, Councilor, and Secretary-Treasurer. Beyond his contributions to APS, Rupe has served on review and advisory panels for plant pathology departments throughout the U.S., serves as an ad hoc reviewer for grant proposals for diverse agencies, and frequently serves as an external reviewer for promotion and tenure documents for plant pathology faculty from diverse institutions. Rupe has also been active in the Southern Soybean Disease Workers group for over 30 years, having served as President, Vice President, and Program Chair.
Rupe is a devoted teacher and mentor, and has a sincere interest in training the next generation of plant pathologists. He has served as the major advisor for 15 graduate students, and has served on nearly 50 graduate student advisory committees. He has taught a broad range of plant pathology courses at the University of Arkansas at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and is currently developing international educational experiences through collaborations with plant pathology faculty in China. Rupe’s lab has hosted a large number of visiting scholars from throughout the world, particularly South America, providing training and education regarding soybean pathology. Outside of the classroom, Rupe has provided invaluable mentorship for junior plant pathology faculty within and outside of the University of Arkansas.
Beyond his numerous professional accomplishments, Rupe has earned the respect of the international plant pathology community through his collaborative demeanor and willingness to share his knowledge and expertise whenever called upon. He has developed strong working relationships with soybean growers and regional/national commodity groups, which has increased the exposure of plant pathology among key stakeholders nationwide. He has participated in, and led, several large, collaborative research projects spanning multiple states and institutions.
In summary, Rupe’s contributions to soybean pathology have been far-reaching. His research has consistently improved the fundamental understanding of soybean diseases, and these accomplishments have translated directly into improved disease management. Rupe has provided leadership in the discipline of plant pathology that has spanned any single disease or cropping system. His knowledge, experience, accomplishments, and service reflect an exceptional career in plant pathology.
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