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W. Douglas Gubler

W. Douglas Gubler was born January 28, 1946, in St. George, UT. He graduated from Dixie High School in St. George in 1964. He subsequently enrolled in Southern Utah State College (now SUU), where he earned his B.S. degree in botany and zoology in 1970. He earned his M.S. degree in plant pathology at the University of Arkansas in 1974. He then came to University of California- Davis (UC-Davis), where he worked as a postgraduate researcher. He ultimately enrolled in the Ph.D. program at UC-Davis and completed his degree in 1982. Dr. Gubler then accepted a position with Campbell Soup Institute for Research and Technology, where he was responsible for research on vegetable diseases and the development of grower support programs. In 1983, Dr. Gubler joined the Department of Plant Pathology at UC-Davis as an assistant cooperative extension plant pathologist and moved through the ranks to his current position of professor.

Dr. Gubler has one of the strongest, most active mission-oriented research and outreach education programs within the University of California system. He has published 44 refereed papers, 17 chapters, and 189 technical reports. From 1993 to 1998, he presented over 225 talks throughout California, the nation, and the world. Many of these talks were to educate growers about canopy management in grapevines, the concepts of disease forecasting, or the myriad of other subjects of which he is considered an expert. He has profoundly influenced production practices in important crops and has assumed important leadership roles at the state, national, and international levels.

His research generally emphasizes pathogen biology and epidemiology, with overarching goals of improved disease control and reduced pesticide usage. One important example of Dr. Gubler’s research accomplishments is his work on Botrytis bunch rot of grapevines. His epidemiological approach to disease control came to be known as “canopy management.” This approach has become common in many parts of the world.

Dr. Gubler’s powdery mildew forecasting system has been similarly successful. With this system, weather data from vineyards in various production areas are relayed via radio telemetry to central base stations. The data are fed into simulation programs to determine the risk of powdery mildew. Growers access both the weather data and risk assessment indices via modem link. The efforts of Dr. Gubler to develop the model and the validation data, to convince growers to invest in weather station equipment and establish regional reporting systems, and to establish regional base stations represented a major undertaking. This system, now privatized, is in wide use statewide, covering virtually every grape production area.

As an outgrowth, private companies involved in Geographic Information Systems mapping technology have become involved. They access the weather data and produce computer-generated maps that are sent to grower subscribers in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. The maps show precisely where disease pressure is high, low, or moderate and allow growers to make management decisions with a degree of resolution never before possible. The temperature data retrieved by the reporting network also serves a role in fungicide selection.

Dr. Gubler’s efforts to extend information to California’s growers took a dramatic, new direction 2 years ago. Following the success of his disease forecasting network, he has been developing a plant pathological computer “bulletin board.” It is envisioned that growers will connect to computers in their offices to obtain weather and disease forecasting data or connect to Dr. Gubler’s bulletin board to look up the latest disease control recommendations. The fundamental goal of this project is to use modern communication technologies to extend information critical to growers in the most timely, easily updateable method possible. This visionary effort clearly places Dr. Gubler in the top rank of his peers.

The quantity and quality of Dr. Gubler’s reports and publications, his applied research program, and his tireless efforts to get information into the hands of growers has earned him an enviable reputation as a leader in cooperative extension.

Dr. Gubler holds a lecturer appointment in the Department of Plant Pathology. Throughout his career at UC-Davis, he has been active and effective in the education and training of graduate students. In addition to classroom instruction, Dr. Gubler has been very active in mentoring graduate students.

As a result of his efforts and statewide leadership, Dr. Gubler was appointed to serve on the United Nations Methyl Bromide Technical Options Committee, which is grappling with the international phaseout of methyl bromide. He serves on the APS Extension and New Fungicide/Nematicide Data committees. He is an honorary member of the Pesticide Applicators Professional Association and a member of Gamma Sigma Delta, the American Society of Enology and Viticulture, and the California Association of Farm Advisers.