University of Minnesota
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
Go to the U of M home page

Stakman-Borlaug Cereal Rust Center

The Stakman-Borlaug Center (SBC)
for Sustainable Plant Health

Honoring the legacy of University of Minnesota scientists
E.C. Stakman and Norman Borlaug

             E.C. Stakman_photo 1        N. Borlaug_photo 2


The University of Minnesota and affiliates comprise world leaders poised for global impact on food security and ecosystem health through research and capacity building. The SBC is an interdisciplinary umbrella bringing together experts in plant pathology with experts in agronomy, applied economics, entomology, horticulture, plant breeding, and soil science, encompassing all aspects of plant health and responding to major threats to world crop production and ecosystem health. The focus of SBC activities is local, national, or international; the impact of SBC is global. 

Research. The SBC facilitates research that solves global problems. Research topics collectively serve to build scientific understanding of plants and the organisms with which they interact and to translate that knowledge into improved crops, sustainable pest and disease management strategies, and policies that protect the ecosystem and further human wellbeing. SBC researchers partner with scientists and other entities at the University of Minnesota and other US and international institutes and organizations to form a network prepared to respond to threats to global food security and ecosystem health. 

Capacity Building. Leveraging more than 100 years of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Minnesota and a significant concentration of scientists from multiple fields of study, the SBC builds the knowledge base and scientific capacity needed to address threats to global food security and ecosystem health. These include experiential learning activities for undergraduate students that raise global awareness and enhance skill sets, graduate programs in multiple fields with thesis projects emphasizing crop plant improvement and ecosystem health, and short term workshops and internships for international scientists designed to teach research strategies and technologies for improving plant health.

About E.C. Stakman and N.E. Borlaug. Elvin C. Stakman (1885-1979) profoundly influenced the field of plant pathology. Dr. Stakman discovered physiological races of wheat stem rust fungi—an observation that revolutionized scientific approaches to global management of rust and other diseases. Dr. Stakman served as Head of the University of Minnesota Department of Plant Pathology and President of the American Phytopathological Society and was named one of the 100 most important men in the world in the 1950s. Dr. Stakman is credited with convincing Norman E. Borlaug (1914-2009) to pursue graduate study in plant pathology. Dr. Borlaug received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota and was significantly influenced throughout his career by Dr. Stakman. By innovatively integrating knowledge of plant pathology, plant breeding, and crop production, Dr. Borlaug developed improved wheat varieties that enhanced crop production and food security in India, Pakistan, and other countries. Credited with saving a billion human lives, Dr. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, the Presidential Medal of Freedom for humanitarian contributions in 1977, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2006

1 Elvin Stakman - Image courtesy of the University of Minnesota Archives
2 Norman Borlaug - 1964 by CIMMYT Images, retrieved from under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareA-like 2.0 Generic license (

Meetings & Events

CFANS INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURE SHOWCASE:       What is Plant Pathology Doing for International Agriculture? August 8, 2014 | VIDEO LINK

SBC Research

Saving Wheat: Rusts Never Sleep | documentary film produced by Twin Cities Public Television and University of Minnesota Department of Plant Pathology | VIEW IT ONLINE

Obligate biotrophy features unraveled by the genomic analysis of rust fungi | by L. Szabo et. al | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

This four-minute video podcast summarizes S-BCRC researchers' role in the nation-wide effort to protect barley from Ug99. | LINK

SBC in the News

Putting Up Resistance  | by Kerry Grens | The Scientist

Scientists in Kenya Try to Fend Off Disease Threatening World's Wheat Crop | Under-Told Stories Project

Testing Hybrids and Tossing Sandals in the Fight Against 'Wheat Rust' | by Fred De Sam Lazaro | PBS NewsHour

From Uganda to Minnesota: A Race to Save Food and Humanity | by Lee Egerstrom | Minnesota 2020

Red Menace: Stop the Ug99 Fungus Before Its Spores Bring Starvation | by Brendan I. Koerner | Wired Magazine