NDSU professor receives International Potato Award

Gary Secor, a professor in NDSU's Plant Pathology Department, receives the 2018 Industry Award from the World Potato Congress. NDSU photo

NDSU Extension

Gary Secor, a professor in North Dakota State University’s Plant Pathology Department, is one of three scientists worldwide to receive the 2018 Industry Award from the World Potato Congress.

He received the award during the 10th World Potato Congress, which was held in Cusco, Peru.

Secor has been involved in potato industry research and education for more than 40 years. In 1978, he joined the NDSU Plant Pathology Department, where his research has focused on potato disease diagnosis, disease management, biotechnology and variety development. He served as interim director of NDSU’s potato breeding program for three years.

Recently, he has concentrated on late blight management, fungicide resistance management in potatoes and sugar beets, postharvest diseases in potatoes, the expanding host range of the disease Fusarium graminearum, Fusarium yellows disease in sugar beets and unraveling the zebra chip disease complex in potatoes.

“It is special to get an award from the industry I have enjoyed working with for 47 years,” he says. “Getting an award like this is not just for one person, but is the result of many people working together and supporting each other – students, technical support, colleagues, staff, allied industry collaborators. It takes an industry to identify and solve problems. This is a great honor for me.”

The Bozeman, Mont., native received his bachelor of science and master of science degrees from Montana State University. He earned his doctorate in plant pathology from the University of California, Davis, in 1977. He began his career in Montana as director of the first potato virus testing lab.

During his career, Secor has published information on numerous potato diseases that have had a substantial impact on the industry. He has discovered several new diseases, including the zebra chip. In addition, he has authored more than 91 publications and 12 book chapters, and delivered more than 300 national and 100 international presentations in 21 countries. He also established a long-term potato project with the potato industry in Chile.

Secor is recognized for his ability to explain technical information in a clear and understandable way. He received the Meritorious Service Award from the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in 1996, Recognition Award from the Latin American Potato Association in 2004 and Economic Development Award from the National Potato Association of Chile in 2017.

“This award reflects both the excellent relations that Dr. Secor has established and maintained with the potato industry and the excellent international reputation he has developed while at NDSU,” says Jack Rasmussen, a professor and the chair of NDSU’s Plant Pathology Department. “He is a deserving recipient of the award.”

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