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The Frederick L. Wellman Award
(Premio Frederick L. Wellman)


The Frederick L. Wellman Award recognizes a scientist who has an outstanding career as a plant pathologist. This is the highest distinction bestowed by the APS-CD to a distinguished plant pathologist that has worked during his/her career for the betterment of the science and profession in the context of the Caribbean Division. Nominees for the award will be evaluated on the basis of quality, originality and quantity of their published research and on the basis of service to the APS-CD and to science and profession of Plant Pathology in general.

a. The nominee must have been a longstanding and current member of APS-CD.
b. The nominee must have received his or her terminal degree at least twenty years prior to the year in which the award is given. There is no minimum age requirement.
c. An individual may receive the Frederick Wellman Award only once in his/her career.
d. Self-nomination is not allowed.
e. A nominator must have been an active member of the APS-CD for at least ten years.

Documents for nomination:

a. A nominating letter, including a detailed account of the nominee’s outstanding contributions to the science and profession of plant pathology.
b. A current Curriculum Vita, including a list of nominee’s publications.
c. Three additional letters of support from the active APS-CD membership.

The nominator should prepare the complete nomination package and send it to APS-CD President. 


 Chronological order of recipients of the Frederick L. Wellman Award:

  • 1996  Dr. Roberto García-Espinosa, Mexico (presented in Mexico)
  • 1997  Dr. David Monterroso Salvatierra, CATIE/MIP, Guatemala (presented in Nicaragua)
  • 1998  Dr. Marvin Miller, Texas A&M University, Weslaco, Texas, (presented in Costa Rica)
  • 1999  Dr. Julio Bird-Piñero, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico (presented in Puerto Rico)
  • 2000  Dr. Jose Amador, Texas A&M University, Weslaco, Texas, (presented in Santo Domingo)
  • 2001  Dr. Rodrigo E. Chavez Badel, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico (presented in Cuba)
  • 2002  Dr. Edward R. French, Internacional Potato Center, Lima, Peru (presented in Guatemala)
  • 2003  Dr. Robert T. McMillan, University of Florida, Homestead, Florida, (presented in USA)
  • 2004  Dr. Richard Lee, USDA ARS, Riverside, California (presented in Cuba)
  • 2005  Dr. Jim Steadman, University of Nebraska (presented in Costa Rica)
  • 2006  Dr. Ramón Lastra, University of Venezuela. (presented in Colombia)
  • 2007 - No award given.
  • 2008  Dr. Judith Brown, University of Arizona. (presented in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA,      at the 2008 APS Centennial Meeting)
  • 2009  No award given.
  • 2010  No award given.
  • 2011  Dr. Ronald Brlansky, University of Florida (presented in Puerto Rico)
  • 2012  Dr. Lawrence E. Datnoff, Louisiana State University

History of the Frederick L. Wellman Award:

The American Phytopathological Society - Caribbean Division (APS-CD) grants it’s most prestigious award, the Frederick L. Wellman Award, to an active member of the Society for his or her contributions to the science of plant pathology in the Caribbean – Latin America area, his or her contributions to the parent society, in general, and in particular to the Caribbean Division of the APS.

When describing the development of the “Frederick L. Wellman Award”, a brief history of the American Phytopathological Society-Caribbean Division (APS-CD) needs to be considered, since the two are intimately related. Because when the origin of the APS-CD is explained, it becomes obvious the influence that the life, thoughts and contributions made by Dr. Frederick Lovejoy Wellman had on the Caribbean Division.

The first mention of the necessity to create this Division appears in a letter dated July 14, 1959, from D.B Waite to Dr. D.H. Raddler, of the United Fruit Company. This communication gives details of the action on the part of a number of Central American plant pathologists toward the establishment of a section of The American Phytopathological Society for the Caribbean Region. A copy of that letter was sent to Dr. Frederick L. Wellman, who at the time was Chairman of the Committee on the International Cooperation of APS. The proposal to form a new division of APS was approved by APS Council at the 52nd Annual Meeting in Wisconsin in August 1960.

Dr. Wellman, while working in Central America and the Caribbean Region, was very supportive of the idea of establishing and organizing the Caribbean Division of the APS. After approval by Council, the first meeting of the new division was held in Miami, Florida at a joint meeting with the American Horticultural Society. Dr. Wellman was elected as the first president of the Caribbean division. At the Miami meeting, Dr. Wellman made a historic and stimulating speech, “Adventures among Caribbean Plant Pathologists.” Wellman said on that occasion:

“If you have lived and worked in some of the remote corners of the Great Caribbean Region, you will realize, as most of us do, one of the things we feel keenly is the tremendous amount of work there is and the lack of contacts with fellow plant pathologists. Here and there, in our corners, may be two or three working beside one another on plant diseases, but usually not. What is it that is most needed in our science of plant pathology in the tropics? I believe it is communication between us, and by that I mean speaking voice communication, at intervals. In the case of our exciting race to keep plants healthy and keep people from starving, particular phase of the disease problem depend on teams of workers, although in some cases a single mind has to do it all. Whatever develops, we, who are the scientific workers, must know about it. The quick, the cheapest the most successful manner in which the largest number get the most value from research is through scientific meetings where contributions are heard and discussed. The meetings are of utmost importance to the participating plant pathologist.

As early as the 1920's a few unplanned events in which several of us met together occurred in communication among tropical plant pathologists. In 1959-1960, the now established Caribbean Division of the American Phytopathological Society was first formed. I do not know what will become of it, but we hope it will continue as an active and unique arm of the APS. Members will be at work on problems of diverse and special nature from several tropical countries using three or four languages. Now this international group is not large but it has grown; some day it may number several hundreds or a thousand or two. It will be a highly interesting, stimulating core of the most active workers in plant pathology in the Caribbean and contiguous areas. This is our challenge. It is here where the future of our science is unfolding.”

Dr. Wellman was born in the village of Kamundongo, Angola (Portuguese West Africa) in 1887, where he spent part of his boyhood. His family moved to Wichita, Kansas where he completed his grammar and high school education. He received his BA degree at Fairmont College (now Wichita State University) and Ph.D degree in Plant Pathology in 1928 from the University of Wisconsin where he was proud to be Dr. J.C Walker’s first graduate student.

Although most of Dr. Wellman’s work was on coffee diseases, he began his career as principal plant pathologist for the United Fruit Company at La Lima, Honduras, working on penetration and histology of Fusarium oxysporum var. cubense, the causal organism of Panama disease of bananas.

Most of his distinguished professional life was spent in the American Tropics, but he also served for short terms as pathologist and plant explorer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in places such as the Middle East and northern Africa. Dr. Wellman initiated and gave technical support to coffee research programs at the Interamerican Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IICA) in Turrialba, Costa Rica. His presence at IICA had a strong, positive influence on teaching and research and strengthened the coffee program already in existence in Turrialba.

The need for effective measures to keep coffee rust out of the Western Hemisphere was always of concern to Dr. Wellman. Therefore, in the early 1950's, he traveled to coffee-producing countries in Africa and Asia to learn more about the latest control measures for coffee rust, as well as to collect coffee material resistant to rust. Shortly after his trip in 1952, he visited the Centro de Investigacao das Ferrugens de Caffee in Oeiras, Portugal, and made arrangements with the Center to provide technical assistance to coffee-producing countries in the Western Hemisphere should if coffee rust ever be established. As we now know, these efforts were rewarded handsomely during and after the establishment of coffee rust: first in Brazil in 1970 and later in other coffee-producing countries in the Western Hemisphere. Perhaps one of Dr. Wellman’s greatest contributions was the 1961 publication, Coffee: Botany, Civilization and Utilization. This outstanding book has been standard text on coffee production for many years.

Dr. Wellman was also a notable teacher. Many students who trained under him at IICA went on to pursue careers in Latin American counties, as well as other parts of the world.

In 1957, Dr. Wellman became head of the Department of Plant Pathology and Botany at the Agricultural Experimental Station of the University of Puerto Rico, in Rio Piedras. When he retired from this position in 1963 he was appointed Visiting Professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In 1971 he was appointed Professor Emeritus at NC State, where he continued to be an active writer.

Dr. Wellman was the founder and first president of the Caribbean Division of the American Phytopathological Society. He also served as Councilor and chairman of the APS Committee on International Cooperation. He received the Award of Merit from the Caribbean Division for distinguished service to tropical plant pathology and in 1974 was designated a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society.

We can say without any doubt that Dr. Wellman’s second career, following his retirement, has been an inspiration to his colleagues. During this time, he wrote and published three books: Plant Diseases, An Introduction for the Layman in 1971; Tropical American Plant Diseases in 1972; and Dictionary of Tropical American Crops and Their Diseases, published in 1977.

Dr. Wellman died Thursday, 21 April 1994 at the age of 97 at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, NC, following a short illness. He was preceded in death by his wife of 72 years, Dora U’Ren Wellman, who passed away 24 December 1992.

The Frederick L. Wellman Award was established in his honor at the business meeting at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Division in October 1995 held in Grosier, in the Island of Guadaloupe. The first recipient of this award was Dr. Roberto García Peña at the Annual Division Meeting held iin Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in 1996.