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Congratulations, Jim Cook! Wolf Prize Well Deserved

Posted by | February 21, 2011

All of us in CAHNRS and across the Cougar Nation were heartened to hear the news of our colleague Jim Cook’s receipt of the prestigious Wolf Prize in Agriculture. The Wolf Prize is awarded once a year by the Wolf Foundation and is one of the six Wolf Prizes established by the Foundation and awarded since 1978. The prize is considered the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in Agriculture.

The Wolf Foundation explained Jim’s contributions as follows:

“As a true pioneer in plant pathology, he has initiated, developed and is leading, the field of biological control of plant diseases. In this respect, he, too, has had an impact beyond his own field. Professor Cook led the team that discovered the nature of suppressive soils that limit the growth of certain plant pathogens. He has identified and provided both fundamental and practical solutions to control different groups of soil-borne pathogens.”

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Jim’s distinguished career is the tremendous impact he has made in both advancing scientific discovery and improving the sustainability and profitability of agricultural producers in Washington State. Some view these as mutually exclusive outcomes; however, he has demonstrated, beyond a doubt, that if one is intentional in addressing each of these goals day in and day out, they can both be achieved at the highest level. I assure you that the wheat producers of Washington State hold Jim in as high regard as the distinguished group of scientists who selected him for the Wolf Prize.

Beyond being an exemplary scientist, Jim is also the consummate team player and a selfless contributor to WSU, the academy and the agriculture industry. Perhaps the ultimate act of selflessness was his willingness to delay his retirement for two years to serve as interim dean of CAHNRS. Much of our recent success in advancing plant science research can be traced back to decisions that Jim initiated during his time at the helm. He is also a huge Coug supporter; you will always find him on game day in the fall cheering on the Cougs.

Jim is also a prolific writer and an outspoken advocate for agriculture and agricultural research.  In editorializing about Jim’s recognition, the Seattle Times noted, “This award in agriculture research is testament that Washington’s cutting-edge research goes well beyond medical advances and silicon chips.” My initial reaction to that statement was a sarcastic, “hello!” However, we must recognize that our urban friends on the Westside sometimes forget about the excellence of WSU’s core land-grant disciplines. We need to celebrate the Times for making this public recognition.

Congratulations, Jim, on a well deserved recognition.