Raymond Hammerschmidt was born in Oak Park, IL, in 1952. He received a B.S. degree in biochemistry (1974) from Purdue University. As an undergraduate in the laboratory of Joseph Kuć, he was involved in some of the first research on induced resistance in cucumber. In 1976, he received his M.S. degree in plant pathology from Purdue University under the direction of Ralph L. Nicholson. He went on to the University of Kentucky, where he received his Ph.D. degree (1980) in plant pathology under Kuć. He credits both of his graduate mentors for instilling in him the value of utilizing both fundamental and applied research and the importance of good teaching. In 1980, Hammerschmidt was appointed as an assistant professor in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Michigan State University (MSU) and was a full professor by 1991. He then became the acting chair of botany and plant pathology at MSU in 1999. Two years later, the MSU Board of Trustees approved a new Department of Plant Pathology and appointed Hammerschmidt as its first chair. This is the first time in recent memory that a Department of Plant Pathology has been created from a broader academic unit. Hammerschmidt also serves as coordinator of MSU Diagnostic Services and director of the North Central Plant Diagnostic Network and has had significant impact on development of the National Plant Diagnostic Network since its inception.
Hammerschmidt has conducted truly outstanding research pioneering the field of induced resistance of plants to fungal and bacterial pathogens. For example, from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, he (together with Kuć and others) developed the induced resistance system in cucumber for systemic acquired resistance (SAR) studies. He and his coworkers determined by genetic and molecular approaches that pathogen-induced necrosis is essential for the induction of SAR. He was also the first to provide data that salicylic acid was probably not the mobile signal for SAR. Hammerschmidt and coworkers characterized the phytoalexin camalexin from Arabidopsis and conducted many of the first biosynthetic studies of this phytoalexin. Using both field and laboratory approaches, he and his coworkers demonstrated that protoporphyrinogen oxidase inhibitor herbicides induced resistance in soybean to Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and provided a biochemical explanation for this phenomenon. Hammerschmidt has conducted many studies demonstrating that multiple types of cell wall alterations are part of a plant’s active response to pathogens. In addition to Hammerschmidt’s many publications in the above areas, in 2000, he coorganized the First International Symposium on Induced Resistance, held in Greece.
Through a long-standing cooperation with the MSU potatobreeding program, Hammerschmidt has been instrumental in developing disease-resistant varieties. This cooperation is reflected in the large number of publications in this area. In addition, he has provided leadership for many extension-related activities in support of phytopathology and the new department. For example, he and his coworkers have produced extension bulletins on potato and soybean diseases. He has been involved in homeland security through several national and local committees and is responsible for coordinating the Michigan soybean rust sentinel plots.
Hammerschmidt has served phytopathology through editorial responsibilities for Phytopathology (associate editor), APS PRESS (senior editor), and Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology (senior editor and editor-in-chief). He has also been councilor andpresident of the North Central Division of APS. He has served on several USDA (Plant Pathology/Weed Science and IPM) and NSF research grant panels and on numerous internal MSU grant panels. Hammerschmidt has also been a member of highly significant MSU search committees, including those for the director and associate director of the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, dean of the Graduate School, assistant provost for Graduate Education, director of MSU Extension, associate director of MSU Extension Programs, and associate director of MSU Extension Operations. In addition, he has chaired two, and served as a member of three, departmental faculty search committees.
Hammerschmidt currently teaches PLP 101 Issues in Plant Pathology, PLP 405 Plant Pathology, and PLP 881 Biochemical and Molecular Plant Pathology. He is an enthusiastic and tireless instructor and his student ratings reflect this.
Hammerschmidt has been major professor for ten Ph.D. and five M.S. students and currently advises two M.S. students. Hammerschmidt has served as an external examiner for Ph.D. candidates in other countries, including Australia and Canada. He has mentored nine postdoctoral research associates and has been a member of 62 graduate committees in eight departments. In addition, Hammerschmidt has been a mentor or supervisor for the High School Science Program, DREAMS Program, Minority Summer Research Program in Plant Sciences, and Michigan Science Olympiad.
Throughout his career, Hammerschmidt has focused mainly on fundamental research. Nevertheless, he has also maintained significant activities in applied phytopathology, academic instruction, outreach, and service. He is a truly complete twenty-firstcentury plant pathologist! This balance of interests is reflected in his many publications, which include peer-reviewed papers (75), extension and related publications (14), technical articles and research reports (78), books and book reviews (5), invited reviews and papers (30), and editorials (29). He has also given numerous invited presentations (120) at national and international meetings, various U.S. and foreign universities, and commodity and growers groups on numerous topics spanning his wide range of expertise. Hammerschmidt continues to conduct full research and teaching programs in addition to his administrative duties as chair in the Department of Plant Pathology at MSU.