The American Society of Agronomy has announced that John Pesek, a Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture at Iowa State University and agronomy emeritus professor, is the recipient of the inaugural ASA Presidential Award. His award was presented at a ceremony on Iowa State campus Oct. 15 and will be formally recognized during the association's awards ceremony on Nov. 5, 2014 during the scientific society's International Annual Meeting in Long Beach, Calif.
"I was honored to nominate Dr. Pesek for this initial ASA Presidential Award," said ASA president David Mengel, an agronomy professor at Kansas State University. "After reflecting on the many excellent suggestions I received I couldn't think of anyone who better fits the description of an Agronomy Presidential Award recipient. We are honored to present the award to Dr. Pesek for all he has done for ASA and the profession and science of agronomy."
Award honors those who've had a lasting impact on crop science
The ASA Presidential Award is given to individuals or teams who have influenced agronomic sciences or crop production practices so greatly the impact of their efforts will be enduring on future science.
The Iowa State ceremony also included the unveiling of a portrait of Pesek that will hang in the second floor of the agronomy building on Iowa State University campus. Done in oil by American artist Liza Amir, the portrait was purchased by the Department of Agronomy and University Museums and is part of the Art on Campus Collection.
World renowned for his role in the 1989 National Academy of Sciences Report on Alternative Agriculture, Pesek began his service at Iowa State in 1950 as an assistant professor in soils. He earned his Ph.D. from North Carolina State and his bachelor's in agricultural education and master's in agronomy at Texas A&M University.
Pesek did many great things for ISU's Agronomy Department
Pesek served as head of the agronomy department for 26 years. During his term as head from 1964 to 1990, he also served as interim dean of agriculture from 1987 to 1988. He worked extensively internationally, emphasizing the environment, production agriculture and education. He spearheaded the development of the Agronomy and Agricultural Engineering Research Farms and oversaw the efforts to secure funding for Agronomy Hall's substantial building addition.
Pesek retired in 1992. He received the Iowa State University Honorary Alumni Award in 2014 and is an emeritus member of the Iowa Academy of Science.
Also received the 2014 Iowa State University Honorary Alumni Award
John Pesek's service to ISU dates back to 1950, when he first joined the agronomy faculty. Today, as an emeritus professor of agronomy and the Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and Life Sciences, Pesek remains one of the university's greatest friends and has left a lasting legacy on campus.
"I've told a lot of people that you might go to a place that's almost as good as Iowa State," the native Texan and Texas A&M University graduate once said, "but you can't go to one that's any better in the field of agronomy. If I had a chance to come to Iowa State again, I'd come without asking. I wouldn't give it a second thought."
The Iowa Soybean Association has established a scholarship in his name to benefit an Iowa State ag student each year. The author or co-author of more than 75 scholarly publications, including the National Research Council's Report of Alternative Agriculture, he is an emeritus member of the Iowa Academy of Science, a trustee of the Agronomic Science Foundation, a life member of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, and a former director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
Among the campus entities Pesek has served are the Human Relations Committee; the University Committee on Women; the ISU Research Foundation; the 1963 Hamilton Committee to reorganize Iowa State University Extension; the Memorial Union board, including a stint as president; and the Iowa State University Press Corporation's board and manuscript committee, of which he has also served as president.
He has been honored with the ISU Human Relations Committee Award, the Alumni Association's Faculty Citation, the Gamma Sigma Delta Meritorious Service Award, the American Society of Agronomy's Agronomic Service Award, the Iowa Academy of Science's Distinguished Service Award, the American Soybean Association's Research Award for Research Administration, the Practical Farmers of Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award, and the C. F. Curtiss Distinguished Professorship, which is the highest honor a College of Ag & Life Sciences faculty member can receive.