Herman Warren, professor emeritus of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, died Nov. 3 in Washington, D.C.

As a professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who started at Virginia Tech in 1989, he was recognized nationally and internationally as an authority on corn and sorghum diseases, co-authoring 87 referred publications, 46 abstracts, 11 book chapters, and 17 technical publications. In the classroom he was a dedicated teacher of genetics, specializing in interactions between hosts and parasites. He taught at Purdue University as well as Virginia Tech.

The plant-breeding world benefited widely from his applied research that resulted in four inbred lines in 1975 with resistance to Puccinia polysora — more commonly known as southern rust. These lines went on to serve as a worldwide source for use in germplasm improvement for southern rust resistance and are the standards used in southern rust research today.

Warren also made significant research contributions to the study and control of diseases in crops through the introduction of exotic maize germplasm, eventually releasing 11 inbred lines developed from an exotic composite which had multi-disease resistance and good combining ability. The release of these lines demonstrated that useful genes found in exotic corn could be transferred and adapted to local regions. The distribution of these inbred lines include over 250 public and private domestic and 100 international breeders/pathologists, respectively.

In 1996, Warren was honored by the journal Blacks in Science for his scholarly achievements in plant pathology and significant contributions to basic and applied research in resistance of maize to various diseases, survival of fungi, studies on nitrogen and nitrification inhibitors, studies on translational alteration in maize infected with fungi, and development of methodologies in plant pathology.

He earned his bachelor's degree from Prairie View A&M University, his master's degree from Michigan State University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Warren is survived by his wife, Mary, and sons Michael, Christopher, and Mark; and his grandchildren Amelia, Noah, Annika, and Odin. A private memorial service was held by his family.

Those wishing to honor Warren’s memory may contribute donations to Alcorn State University in honor of "Dr. Herman L. Warren's Scholarship Fund for Plant Pathology Students." Checks can be made to Alcorn State University Foundation, and mailed to Casey C. Mock, Finance and Accounting Manager, Alcorn State University Foundation, Inc., 1000 ASU Drive #810, Lorman, Mississippi 39096.

Written by Amy Loeffler