The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Forest Pathology

The advances made in plant pathology did not begin until almost the close of the nineteenth century. The United States government first recognized the science in 1885. In 1886 Dr. Erwin F. Smith ('86, ScD. '89, LL.D. hon. '22, Sc.D. Wisconsin '14), "dean of the American phytopathologists," was appointed assistant to Dr. F. Lamson Scribner, mycologist of the newly created section of the Botanical Division of the United States Department of Agriculture. Another man whose name will always be associated with important advances in plant pathology was Lewis R. Jones ('89, Ph.D. '04, LL.D. hon. '35), who had been a fellow student of Filibert Roth at the University. Two years after the first department of plant pathology was formed (Cornell, 1907), a department was established at the University of Wisconsin with Professor Jones at its head. He made important studies on the relation of environment to plant disease.

Forest pathology, like plant pathology, received stimulus in the Department of Botany, and attention in the University was attracted to this field at about the same time that the importance of fungus diseases was first given consideration in the nation. It is difficult to separate the first courses offered at the University on structure and classification of fungi from those which were concerned primarily with diseases of plants and forest trees. Although forest fungi were studied as early as 1905, James B. Pollock (Wisconsin '93, Sc.D. Michigan '97), Assistant Professor of Botany, offered the first course which specifically called attention to forest pathology.

The description of this first course reads in part:

Morphology, and Classification of Fungi. … This course with Course 8 is preparatory to research in pathology. The first part of the semester will be spent in collecting and classifying fungi, with special reference to forms causing diseases of trees. The latter work will include the study of the larger groups, and the preparation of lists of literature and reports on assigned topics.

Michigan's first forestry student, C. L. Hill ('01, M.S.F. ibid. '05), Assistant Professor of Forestry (1909-12), entered the United States Service and worked on the prevention of wood decay by the use of timber preservatives. The preservative treatment of wood received commendation equal to that of conservative use of the forest itself. Both were parts of a great movement to prevent timber famine.

The name of another early graduate, Roy G. Pierce (Nebraska '07, M.S.F. Michigan '08), will always be associated with the control work that the government has done against foreign fungus pests which attack trees. His familiarity Page  1113with the exotic Endothia parasitica and the damage it was causing in the chestnut forests of the East prepared him for a key position in the fight against the blister rust, a pest new to North America.

Forest pathology at that time was still considered as more or less subsidiary to other work. The subject has been required as part of a course in botany and has been given under such names as Forest Protection, Forest Botany, and Forestry. As the Department of Forestry grew, Roth insisted upon forest pathology as a fundamental requirement for a degree in forestry. Work was developed primarily for students intending to study forestry, and later the course was arranged for foresters only. It was given in 1916 by Assistant Professor Calvin H. Kauffman (Harvard '96, Ph.D. Michigan '07), who built up a large reference collection of valuable specimens for timber disease study and did much toward laying the foundation for forest pathology. The required term report on heart rot is remembered by all who came under Kauffman's influence, and older graduates regard the New Richmond field trips with him as high spots in their University careers. During this period emphasis was given not so much to the accumulation of known facts as to stimulating original observation.

New concepts in forest pathology were developed, and old ones were modified when the study of this subject became a definite part of the curriculum in the School of Forestry and Conservation. Professor Dow V. Baxter was given charge of this work. The diseased tree and forest became the central focus, and mycology, although still considered fundamental to the training of the specialist, did not absorb the major interest.

With opportunities strengthened for the training of specialists, emphasis in the beginning course in pathology was designed to give the Michigan forester a background and working knowledge of fundamentals upon which he could draw.

An added course called Pathology of Wood was offered in 1931-32. Intended for students of wood technology and engineering, it dealt with the growth requirements of the decay- and stain-causing fungi by actual experiments made in the laboratory. Toxicity studies were conducted and, in contrast to early policies of conservation, the methods used for stain and decay prevention and control were employed in many ways to extend the usefulness of wood and its products. The laboratory work was supplemented by an annual inspection trip to the United States Forest Products Laboratory at Madison, Wisconsin.

For advanced work in products pathology, and for special problems, a dry kiln, a timber-treating plant, and testing machines were made available. This wood technology laboratory, established in 1927 under the direction of Professor William Kynoch, has been open to students working in both forest and products pathology.