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Eddie Echandi Student Travel Grant

The faculty of the Plant Pathology Department at North Carolina State University along with many friends from around the world helped to establish this fund in honor and memory of Dr. Eddie Echandi.

Eddie Echandi

Eddie Echandi was born on November 21, 1926, in San José, Costa Rica. Eddie attended primary school in the Edifico Melálico and high school in the Seminario run by German priests, earning his B.S. degree in 1946. In 1950 he graduated as an Ingeniero Agrónomo from the University of Costa Rica. In June 1952, he earned his M.Sc. degree in plant pathology under Dr. F. L. Wellman at the Interamerican Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IICA, now called CATIE). Eddie then went to the University of Wisconsin where he earned his doctorate in plant pathology under Dr. J. C. Walker in 1955.

Dr. Echandi spent the next five years at the University of Costa Rica conducting research on vegetable crops, teaching, and guiding graduate students. In 1960, he took a position as plant pathologist and later became the head of the Division of Fitotecnia y Suelos with IICA where he worked on coffee and bean diseases. He established a center in Turrialba on bean diseases in the neotropics. There he became the head of the Central America Basic Food Crops Program.

Dr. Echandi joined the faculty of the Plant Pathology Department at North Carolina State University (NCSU) in 1967 in Peru. He moved his wife Mildred and daughters, Diane and Ivonne, to Raleigh in 1969, where he developed a program on phytobacteriology and vegetable diseases, emphasizing trellised tomatoes and potatoes. More recently, his research expanded to include biocontrol aspects of Rhizoctonia diseases and Granville wilt of tobacco.

His teaching at NCSU included PP501 (1970–1984), PP690 Seminar (1987–1988), and Discussion Groups on Tropical Plant Pathology as well as many guest lectures. Eddie has chaired or cochaired 45 M.Sc. and 20 Ph.D. students from 22 countries.

Eddie was a member of The American Phytopathological Society and the APS Southern and Caribbean Divisions of the same society, and Asociacion Latinoamericana de Fitopatologia. He served on numerous APS committees, including the Teaching, Regulatory Work and Foreign Plant Diseases, International Cooperation, Tropical Plant Pathology, and Seed Pathology Committees. Eddie was also a councilor of the Caribbean Division, an associate editor of Phytopathology, and served on the editorial board of Turrialba, Revista de Biologia Tropical, and Plant Disease Reporter. In 1972 he was chair of the USAID University of California team that made recommendations for crop protection in Brazil, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Uruguay. In 1973, the APS Caribbean Division, which Eddie helped to found, awarded the Award of Merit for Distinguished Service to Tropical Plant Pathology to Dr. Echandi. In 1988, Dr. Echandi was recognized for his contributions to plant pathology by being elected a Fellow of APS. In 1991, Dr. Echandi received the Outstanding Service Award from the North Carolina Tomato Grower’s Association in recognition of 25 years of service and research.

Dr. Echandi’s outstanding professional contributions to the science of plant pathology and society are many, among which are a new coffee leaf spot, “quema,” caused by Phoma costarricense n.sp., ecological niches in the neotropics in relation to beans diseases, and bacteriocins of several bacterial pathogens as biocontrol agents. Later he showed that bacterial strains isolated from tomato seed lots were identical to those found in grower fields and he developed an effective seed treatment. He developed seed treatment for the control of cabbage black rot and management tactics for bacterial hollow stalk of tomato, bacterial wilt of sweet potato, and bacterial barn rot of tobacco.

In the fall of 1989, Eddie became a U.S. citizen. Eddie and Millie continued to live in Raleigh, after retirement in 1993, to be closer to their North Carolina friends and their daughter, Ivonne, and husband, Spencer Bennett, and grandchildren, Ashley, Andrew, Allison, and Anna-Marie. Their grandchildren, Mariola and Juliana, live in Costa Rica.

Eddie was especially involved with and close to graduate students throughout his career. He challenged them to think and ask good questions in class, research, and life. He was an advocate, a mentor, and a friend to each student and he made a difference in their lives. ​