Colleagues, family, and friends established this award in honor and memory of John F. Schafer for the contributions he made to the science of plant pathology through his research, teaching, and service.
John F. “Jack” Schafer (1921–2007) received a B.S. degree in plant pathology from Washington State University (WSU) in 1942. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he attended the University of Wisconsin, completing a Ph.D. degree in plant pathology and agronomy in 1950.
In 1952, Jack was appointed assistant professor of plant pathology at Purdue University and advanced to full professor in 1958. He was a visiting professor at Duquesne University in 1965 and was then named head of the Department of Plant Pathology at Kansas State University (KSU) in 1968. At KSU, he was chair of the Cereal Crops Task Force, USDA, and helped initiate a remote-sensory program for the detection of wheat diseases and other crop conditions. Jack was named chair of the Department of Plant Pathology at WSU in 1972.
In 1981, Jack was appointed acting national research program leader in nematology and plant pathology, USDA-ARS, St. Paul, MN. He retired from USDA-ARS in 1987 but continued to collaborate on special projects for the Cereal Research Laboratory in St. Paul.
Jack’s research concentrated on a better understanding of resistance in small grain crops to rusts and other fungi. He helped pioneer the concept of cultivar diversity and regional deployment to improve durability of resistance against new pathogen races of rust fungi, as well as use of plant tolerance as a means to limit crop losses due to disease.
Jack served as APS councilor-at-large (1973–1976), vice president (1976–1977), and president (1978–1979). As APS president, he helped launch Plant Disease as a new journal for the society. He also served in leadership roles in the North Central Division, serving as president (1963–1964), and numerous APS committees, including Genetics, Public Responsibilities, and International Cooperation. He also served as secretary and chair of the Intersociety Consortium of Plant Protection. In recognition of his research and many years of service to plant pathology, Jack was elected a Fellow of APS in 1988.
Jack passed away on May 5, 2007. He was preceded in death by his daughter Janice. He is survived by his wife Joyce of Santa Rosa, CA, as well as his daughter Pat and son Jim and four granddaughters.