H. David Shew was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. He graduated from Greensboro College with a BS in Biology in 1974 and earned his MS in 1977 and PhD in 1980 in Plant Pathology from NC State University. Upon completing his PhD, Shew accepted a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at NC State University and was promoted to the rank of Professor at NC State in 1994. Shew was elected as a NC State Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor in 2008 and Philip Morris Professor in 2009 – Professorships that he currently holds.
The Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor is awarded annually to a maximum of six faculty at NC State. The nominee must have received the Outstanding Teaching Award and taught an undergraduate course for 7 years. Moreover, the nominee must provide distinguished support of undergraduate teaching in study abroad, service, undergraduate research, or work on committees related to undergraduate teaching. Shew easily met these criteria and frankly is one of the best teachers in the College of Ag and Life Science at NC State. In addition to Shew’s teaching accomplishments detailed below, he is also recognized as an exceptional researcher as evident by the Philip Morris Professorship recognition. This Professorship is awarded to only three faculty members who must have at least 51% of their time in tobacco science. Two are given for excellence in extension and one for research, which Shew currently holds until he vacates his position. Both of these awards are major honors at NC State and clearly demonstrate Shew’s impact in both research and teaching in plant pathology.
As a teacher, few are as accomplished as Shew. He has received multiple awards for his innovative teaching of Introductory Plant Pathology, including the Excellence in Teaching Award from APS in 2009. Shew's teaching includes on campus and Distance Education sections of Introductory Plant Pathology and the mycology section of the graduate course Biology of Plant Pathogens. His teaching evaluations consistently demonstrate Shew’s organization and clarity in presenting challenging topics to undergraduate and incoming graduate students. Common themes in the written responses in Shew’s student evaluations are his clarity of presentation, enthusiasm, personality, and knowledge. His knowledge of plant pathology is broad and he translates that knowledge into relevant information for a diverse audience delivered to fit multiple learning styles in his classes. His teaching style incorporates traditional lectures with innovative technological tools to explain complicated subjects such as Gene-for Gene Interactions and videos of basic lab concepts in plant pathology. Shew uses interactive tools to teach terms of plant pathology and incorporates pronunciations to help the students pronounce the terms appropriately! He has developed an interactive exercise based in a 3D virtual lab to help students recognize disease symptoms and the steps involved in disease diagnosis. This tool has allowed him to track decisions the students make and has promoted publication of learning styles in a virtual environment. He recently has developed a tool to help students design experiments and test hypotheses and created a new approach to illustrating the dynamics of disease cycles that uses numerous types of media to present the information. All his efforts are designed to help students learn the discipline of Plant Pathology at their own pace and style. He has sparked the passion of numerous students for Plant Pathology in his undergraduate course. He is an exceptional teacher that is responsible for bringing many talented students into graduate studies in Plant Pathology.
Shew’s excellence in teaching and mentorship are matched and elevated by the outstanding research program that he has developed. The primary area of focus for Shew’s research program is on the major soilborne pathogens of tobacco, turfgrasses and stevia. His research program focuses on applied and fundamental goals with an overall strategy to solve current disease programs in North Carolina. Shew is a leader in understanding the etiology and epidemiology of black shank of tobacco caused by Phytophthora nicotianae with many of his multimedia tools used by scientists and extension agents. His work has characterized state and regional populations of the pathogen and characterized mechanisms of host resistance and pathogen adaptation. His research also has elucidated the etiology and management of multiple new diseases of tobacco, including target spot and yellow stunt, and characterized the abiotic suppression of P. nicotianae and Thielaviopsis basicola in acid soils by aluminum. The conclusions from the work on aluminum sensitivity showed that T. basicola (a true fungus) was less sensitive to Al than the oomycete P. nicotianae. Recent work has also focused on characterizing pathogens of stevia, a new crop in North Carolina. His group has pioneered management for Septoria in stevia and described etiology of Pythium species, Sclerotium rolfsii, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, and Macrophomina phaseolina. His program with stevia spans basic research on pathogens to hosting field days to generate interest in the crop and provide information needed by growers. Most recently, Shew was part of a research team that received a $3.2 million SCRI NIFA grant to study Stevia production in the southeast. Shew’s research efforts have yielded 78 referred research publications of which 52 are published in APS journals. His Google Scholar h-factor of 20 highlights his research impacts.
Shew’s work has impacted our knowledge of soilborne plant pathogens in numerous pathosystems. He has an impressive list of qualifications and accomplishments, but more importantly he has passed his passion for plant pathology to numerous students. Shew has mentored over 40 MS and PhD students and served on well over 150 graduate committees in Plant Pathology, Horticulture, Crop Science and Biological and Agricultural Engineering. He served as a Senior Editor for Plant Disease from 1996 to 2000, an Associate Editor for Plant Disease and Phytopathology, and was editor of Tobacco Science for 6 years. He remains active in APS committees and most recently served on the APS Awards and Honors Committee and in the Office of Education from 2014 to 2016. Dr. H. David Shew is a consummate scholar and most deserving of recognition as APS Fellow.