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Donald E. Munnecke Student Travel Grant

The Donald E. Munnecke fund ​was established through the efforts of George Leavitt and by donations from Don’s friends and colleagues, including Tri-Cal, Inc. and Crompton Uniroyal Chemical. The first travel grant was given at the 2005 APS Annual Meeting in Austin, TX. 

Donald E. Munnecke
Donald E. Munnecke, born in 1920 in St. Paul, MN, was the youngest of three children. He was educated in local schools, graduated from Mechanic Arts High School, and immediately enrolled at the University of Minnesota. After graduating with his B.S. degree in June 1942, he married Elaine Miller. His graduate studies in plant pathology under E. C. Stakman were interrupted by a stint in the U.S. Army (1942–1946), during which he was sent to the Pacific shortly after the war as part of the occupation forces. After being discharged as a captain, he returned home and to his studies, completing M.S. and Ph.D. degrees (1950) in plant pathology.

Don began working at UCLA in 1951 and worked on growing disease-free plants. Headed by Kenneth A. Baker, the team put together “Manual 23—UC System for Producing Healthy Container Grown Plants,” which still stands today as the standard for nursery container production and is a tribute to those who did the research and produced this marvelous guide. It is known within the industry as the “nurseryman’s 23 Psalm.”

Early in his career, Don began research in soil fumigation, which continued throughout his career with the founders of Tri-Cal Corporation—Richard Storkan, Gerome Hanes, and Robert McCaslin. His stories of some of this early work were interesting and historical as to the work performed, the failures and successes, and the foundation of this business, which has helped California agriculture grow. His research in soil fumigation was directed toward plant-pathogenic fungi and bacteria control in the soil and the best application methods to achieve maximum control. This work included the fate of fumigants in the soil, dosage response of pathogens to methyl bromide, and the effect of humidity on efficacy. In conjunction with Marty Kolbezen, they discovered and developed the synergy of methyl bromide and chloropycrin in controlling soil fungi.

In 1961, the College of Agriculture was transferred from UCLA to the University of California-Riverside (UC-R) to strengthen the research and teaching staff and formed the College of Agriculture at UC-R. Don and others in the department were instrumental in developing the UC-R Department of Plant Pathology into the first-class entity that it is today. Don took pride in his work advising graduate students, and for 34 years, he taught the first course in plant pathology to UC-R students. He strongly believed that senior professors should teach the basic courses because these were the most important in orienting new students to the discipline. He was also bold in his belief that all plant pathologists, regardless of specialty, should have good field experience in dealing with agriculture and pathology. He believed that lab research is strengthened by field-oriented knowledge of field problems. He was heard many times in seminars asking students this question: “What is the application of this research to solving problems in the field?” Don retired in 1985.

Several honors were given to Don throughout his career. In 1965, he was a Guggenheim Fellow, as well as a Senior Fulbright Researcher in Germany. He was named an APS Fellow in 1983 and awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the APS Pacific Division in 1993.

This fund was contributed by his graduate students and industry to honor his contributions to education and California agriculture.

Don and Elaine have four children and reside in Riverside, CA.