The Dubin Student Travel Award is dedicated to the Peace Corps. Preference for this award will be given to students working on diseases of food crops with an international focus preferably interested in an international career.
When I graduated from SUNY College of Forestry [now College of Environmental Science and Forestry] in 1964, many of us were imbued with the spirit of President Kennedy’s 1960 statement “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” At least six of my classmates joined the Peace Corps. Most of us went to Chile to work in forestry. I was sent to a regional university (Universidad Austral) in the south to teach basic forest pathology, which was my interest in college. Between October 1964 and December 1966, I taught and did extension work. In the process, we found a new pathogen, Dothistroma pini, on Pinus radiata, the major plantation species in Chile. My Peace Corps time convinced me that I wanted to continue to do international work, especially in food production. Meanwhile, the work on D. pini helped me get a USFS assistantship at Colorado State University (CSU) working with John Staley on foliar blights of pines. Most importantly, it was at CSU where I met my wife Gloria, who was doing graduate studies in Latin American literature.
After I finished my M.S. degree, I went to the University of California-Davis to work on European apple canker with Harley English. I finished my doctorate in 1972 and received a Foreign Area Fellowship to work at my old Peace Corps post in Chile to teach plant pathology and start a virus-free potato program. In 1973, due to the political situation in Chile, we moved on to the University of Maine and then, in 1975, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) wheat program offered me a job as triticale/wheat pathologist in Mexico. This brought us back to our career goal to work in international agriculture and food production in developing countries. I learned that my Peace Corps service helped Norman Borlaug and Glenn Anderson make their selection.
Over a period of more than 24 years, I was privileged to work with scientists like Borlaug, Anderson, Frank Zillinsky, Sanjaya Rajaram, and many others. In the ensuing years, we worked in Mexico, the Andean Region of South America, and South Asia. I served as regional pathologist/breeder in both regions and later on in Mexico as subprogram leader, pathology; leader, Seed Health Unit; and lastly as associate director, Wheat Program. In 1999, I retired from CIMMYT. It was a very rewarding career and the Peace Corps with its philosophy helped guide me in it. In many ways, the world has not changed that much and the Peace Corps is more relevant than ever.
Lastly, one might ask why support a student travel fund at APS? In my years abroad, APS meetings and members were very important in helping me in my work. I would come from overseas for vacation and looked forward to these meetings to get up to date in pathology. Roland Line and I used to sponsor ad hoc cereal workers socials years ago, and some good international cooperative work and information exchange came out of them. It is heartening to see APS become truly international. As well, my work with the Office of International Programs and its members, through the years, was very fruitful. I believe it is critical for graduate students to participate in APS meetings and hope that this award will be a small contribution to that effort.