Celebrating the 2015 Recipient of the E.C. Stakman Award: Jeff Ellis
The E.C. Stakman Award is awarded each year in honor of Dr. Elvin Charles Stakman, a pioneer in wheat stem rust research. Stakman dedicated his career to find ways to incorporate rust resistance into wheat, and he developed tools that remain in use across the field of plant pathology today.
This year’s award winner Jeff Ellis, Program Leader at CSIRO Plant Industry in Australia, shares Stakman’s vision of protecting crops from disease, and thru his work Ellis has extended Stakman’s legacy by identifying many of the underlying genes that control rust resistance. Ellis was presented this year’s award on Oct. 22 where he also gave a research seminar highlighting rust resistance research.
Ellis was one of the first scientists to apply molecular genetic techniques to studying disease resistance. One of these techniques involved continued research on the gene-for-gene concept, a widespread and very important aspect of plant disease resistance originally discovered by Dr. Harold Flor. Having knowledge of these gene-for-gene relationships has proved to be an essential tool for controlling plant disease. Working in the same flax rust disease system as Flor, Ellis identified the components controlling the genetic interaction between flax and rust. His findings on this topic have shaped the way scientists understand pathogen interactions in plant systems. Ellis was also recognized as a worldwide leader in the field of molecular plant-microbe interactions since he conducted some of the earliest investigations on the identification of components of the plant immune recognition system.
Not only has Ellis excelled in his research endeavors, but has been dedicated to educating the next generation of plant health leaders.
“Jeff was an excellent mentor, and I have always been impressed by the scientific rigor that he brings to his work. One of the great things I learned from Jeff is the importance of melding excellent basic science with practical applications in the field,” says Peter Dodds Science Leader at CSIRO and a former postdoctoral student of Ellis.
Ellis’ commitment to education and scientific achievements has inspired the world’s plant pathologists, and through his publications, presentations, and mentorship he will continue to do so in the future.