Perhaps no other American plant pathologist is so deserving of the title “Pioneer of Plant Pathology” as Thomas J. Burrill. A product of the American frontier and a researcher and teacher of plant pathology before the science even had a name, Burrill was a pioneer in every sense of the word. His original research on the cause of fire blight resulted in the first major conceptual advance in plant pathology made by an American. He also played an important role as an administrator and teacher at the University of Illinois. Many of the problems Burrill faced during his long and distinguished career will sound familiar to academic scientists of our own time. In particular, he and his contemporaries contended with student unrest, flagging public interest in higher education, heavy teaching loads, and insufficient support for research activities. By any measure, Burrill was unusually successful in coping with these problems and he fashioned a career remarkable in its contributions to his university, the public, and the scientific community.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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