R. James Cook

Four Decades of Service.

R. James Cook is dean and professor emeritus, Washington State University. During his 40 years at WSU, he served from 1965 to 1998 as Research Plant Pathologist with USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducting research on biological and ecological approaches to manage root diseases of Pacific Northwest wheat; from 1998 to 2003 as the R. J. Cook Endowed Chair in Wheat Research at WSU, a position endowed with a $1.5 million gift from the Washington Wheat Commission to the WSU Foundation; and from 2003 to 2005 as Interim Dean of the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. From October, 1993 through March, 1996, he served in Washington DC on a 50% appointment as Chief Scientist for the USDA’s National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program.

In addition to some 200 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters, he has co-authored two books: Biological Control of Plant Pathogens and Wheat Health Management. In 1988, he led the team of researchers at Washington State University that made the first field test of a genetically modified organism in the Pacific Northwest, which was a microorganism for root disease control on wheat.

Professional Recognition.

Cook’s professional awards include Superior Service Award, Distinguished Service Award, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Distinguished Scientist of the Year, and ARS Science Hall of Fame, all from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Fellow, Award of Distinction, and Ruth Allen Award from the American Phytopathological Society; Fellow, Crop Science Society of America; Fellow, American Society of Agronomy; and Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Recognition from grower organizations include Washington Crop Improvement/O A Vogel Award;  Pioneer Direct Seeder Award, Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association; and No-till Innovator Award for Research and Teaching, National No-till Conference.  In 2006, the WSU Board of Regents named WSU’s newest research farm the R. James Cook Agronomy Farm.  He was elected to the U.S National Academy of Sciences in 1993 and was co-winner of the 2011 Wolf Prize in Agriculture awarded in Israel.

A Legacy in Action.

Cook currently serves as one of seven citizen trustees on the Board Authority of Washington State’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund and is past president of the Washington State Academy of Sciences. He holds BSc (1958) and MSc. (1961) degrees and an honorary doctorate (1999) from North Dakota State University and a PhD (1964) from the University of California, Berkeley. He and his wife, Beverly, have been married 54 years and have four children and five grandchildren.