Elvin Charles Stakman

Elvin C. Stakman

Elvin Charles Stakman (May 17 1885-January 22 1979) was an American plant pathologist who was a pioneer of methods of identifying and combatting disease in wheat.

Stakman had a major hand in influencing Norman Borlaug to pursue a career in phytopathology. In 1938, in a speech entitled "These Shifty Little Enemies that Destroy our Food Crops", Stakman discussed the manifestation of the plant disease rust, a parasitic fungus that feeds on phytonutrients, in wheat, oat and barley crops across the US. He had discovered that special plant breeding methods created plants resistant to rust. His research greatly interested Borlaug, and when Borlaug's job at the Forest Service was eliminated due to budget cuts, he asked Stakman if he should go into forest pathology. Stakman advised him to focus on plant pathology instead, and Borlaug subsequently re-enrolled to the University of Minnesota to study plant pathology under Stakman. Borlaug went on to discover varieties of dwarf wheat that helped reduce famine in India, Pakistan, and other countries, and received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 1970.

In Stakman's honor, Stakman Hall was named for him on the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus, providing space for Plant Pathology and related fields.


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