University of Minnesota
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
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Department of Plant Pathology

Helen Hart


Helen Hart (1900 - 1971) was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. She received her B.A. in 1922, M.S. in 1924 and Ph.D. in 1929. After her Ph.D. she remained in Plant Pathology at Minnesota as an Agent in the Office of Cereal Crops and Diseases of the USDA's Bureau of Plant Industry and later became a full professor. Hart was an exceptional writer and editor. She also understood the fundamentals of several languages in addition to English. She would also express herself and her thoughts on events through poems written for the Department's newsletter, the Aurora Sporalis. Although never a regular classroom instructor, Helen Hart did many excellent "spot lectures" in several courses. More importantly she served for most of her academic career as what would now defined as the Director of Graduate Studies. All Ph.D. candidates had to have a working knowledge of two foreign languages and Dr. Hart administered those demanding language examinations. She was especially effective in advising and guiding the many international graduate students who sought education at the University of Minnesota.

In research, she and her students specialized in studies to determine the effects of environment on the progression of stem rust of wheat. They pioneered "slow rusting" resistance research, whose host genetics and environmental interactions are complex. Helen Hart was a strong believer in the American Phytopathological Society and served in several important capacities in APS, becoming the first female president of APS in 1955.

Further Reading

Helen Hart: The First Woman President of The American Phytopathological Society


Green Revolution Archives

Helen Hart Papers at the University Archives