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Steven T. Koike


As plant pathology farm advisor for Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, Steven Terry Koike has an exceptional extension program characterized by consistent, sustained levels of productivity and excellence. A native of San Diego, California, Koike grew up working for his family’s wholesale orchid nursery. He admired extension professionals, such as Plant Pathology Specialist Art McCain and Horticulture Advisor Seward Besemer, who assisted farmers like his father. Koike attended the University of California (UC)-Davis and earned B.S. (plant science, 1978) and M.S. (pest management, 1980) degrees, both focusing on plant pathology. While at UC-Davis, Koike worked for Joseph Ogawa, a plant pathology professor who was known for problem-solving research that assisted farmers, and he met extension academics who encouraged his interest in pursuing an extension career.

Koike worked for 5 years as a regulatory plant pathologist and then in 1989 was appointed to his current position with UC Cooperative Extension. Stationed in the Salinas Valley’s county-based extension office for 24 years, Koike has contributed significantly to California agriculture and to the science of plant pathology. Koike’s research involves dozens of hosts (vegetables, fruits, ornamentals, cover crops, and forest trees), many different etiological factors (fungi, bacteria, viruses, and abiotic elements), and various epidemiological settings (field, greenhouse, forest, and conventional and organic farms). He consistently followed extension’s time-honored model of addressing issues faced by clientele: collaborating with industry and fellow researchers; developing research-based information on the etiology, biology, and control of problems; communicating findings to clientele; and assisting clients in adopting change. His extensive bibliography attests to the broad scope of his research and to his success at fashioning cooperative teams.

Koike’s drive to address industry problems and novel situations motivated him to expand his work into fields beyond plant pathology. For example, following the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak on California spinach, he engaged in food safety research and conducted studies on E. coli and Salmonella ecology and survival under field conditions in the Salinas Valley. When damaging tospovirus outbreaks occurred, Koike developed expertise in identifying thrips species to complete epidemiological studies on Impatiens necrotic spot virus.

When first starting his research and extension program, Koike envisioned establishing a diagnostic lab in Salinas. He obtained funding to create the lab and hire technicians, building it into an indispensable diagnostic service for growers in coastal California. This lab remains the only fully equipped, county-based plant pathology lab for UC, and it is instrumental in detecting and confirming the many new host–pathogen cases that Koike uncovers. Salinas Valley farmers claim to be alarmed when Koike drives onto their ranches because of his propensity for discovering new diseases afflicting their crops. Koike’s accomplishments have earned him the Outstanding Achievement Award from the California Friends of Agricultural Extension and the Oscar Lorenz Award from UC-Davis for service to the vegetable industry. He is the two-time recipient of the statewide Distinguished Service Award for Research from UC Cooperative Extension.

Koike’s intensive education program focuses on coastal agriculture, but it has influence statewide and beyond. Koike is a highly sought-after speaker for extension and industry education events in California and other states. From 1989 through September 2012, he accomplished the following: presenting 234 talks at grower meetings; organizing 59 meetings, field days, and workshops; hosting 19 meetings specifically for the spinach industry; and providing 82 interviews and other educational offerings to the media and public. These activities total 394 educational opportunities that delivered research-based information. To complement his extensive activities as a speaker, Koike has written hundreds of extension articles that communicated findings to clientele. He incorporates current methods in communication technology to extend findings to clientele, such as electronic newsletters, a blog, and e-mail notification of lab results.

In keeping with the outreach mission of extension, Koike is committed to providing services to all clientele regardless of farm size or language spoken. Koike particularly focuses on helping the limited-resource growers in his region who speak only Spanish. Koike uses his fluency in Spanish to communicate with them in the field and during extension meetings and to write Spanish-language extension articles. Further, he demonstrated initiative and leadership by devising and teaching workshops on diversity/ethnicity and outreach to extension colleagues. His workshops covered the following: genomics and the concept of race; race and culture in California; race, science, and medicine; and theories and concepts of language and translation.

Koike’s publication record is unrivaled for a county-based UC academic. In 28 years as a professional plant pathologist, he has been an author on the following 913 publications: 216 refereed journal articles; 65 refereed extension articles; 225 nonrefereed extension articles; one book; 24 book sections; 247 miscellaneous technical articles; and 135 industry articles. The 216 refereed journal articles include 121 Disease Notes in Plant Disease, which testifies to the strong diagnostic aspect of Koike’s program. The pinnacle of Koike’s published work is his 450-page book Vegetable Diseases: A Color Handbook , which includes more than 600 color photographs, most taken by Koike.

With an extensive professional service record, Koike has served APS and other groups in the following capacities: associate editor, HortTechnology, 1998–2000 and 2001–2004; associate editor, Plant Disease, 2003–2005; Editorial Board member, Journal of Asian Plant Pathology, 2006–2008; senior editor, APS PRESS Editorial Board, 2006–2008 and 2009–2011; associate editor, Plant Health Progress, 2010–2013; and associate editor, Phytopathology, 2010–2013. He served on APS committees for Diagnostics and Seedborne Pathogens and on many UC advisory committees for IPM and strategic planning.

Koike’s expertise, accomplishments, professionalism, and leadership are recognized at state, regional, national, and international levels. Since 1990, Koike has received 52 invitations to speak at scientific conferences held throughout California, the country, and the world. Koike’s reputation has placed him on the international stage as well. He was committee chair, host, and organizer of the 12th International Sclerotinia Conference in 2005 and of the 2007 International Spinach Conference. Finally, he is cochair and coordinator of the Extension Plant Pathology session for the 2013 International Congress of Plant Pathology in Beijing, China.