Arthur L. Hooker (1924-1991) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Arthur L. Hooker (1924-1991)
Variant Name: Art Hooker

Historical Note:

Arthur (Art) L. Hooker (1924-1991) was a professor in plant pathology and agronomy at the University of Illinois from 1958-1980.  He is internationally recognized for his research on plant pathology, corn breeding, and plant genetics.

Arthur Hooker was born on October 12, 1924, in Lodi, Wisconsin, to Robert Lee and Dora Leuth Hooker.  After graduating from high school, he served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1946.  Hooker then attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he graduated with a Ph.D. (1952).

Hooker served as an assistant professor of botany and plant pathology at Iowa State University from 1952-1954, and then as a plant pathologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service at the University of Wisconsin from 1954-1958.  In 1958, Hooker joined the faculty of the University of Illinois as professor in Plant Pathology.  He remained at the university until 1980, when he left to serve as Bioscience Director and Principal Scientist at DeKalb-Pfizer Genetics (1980-1986).  In the last years of his life, Hooker worked as Scientific Director of the Plant Molecular Biology Center at Northern Illinois University and as a corn breeder for Hughes Hybrids Seed Company.

Professor Hooker is best known for his research and teaching on corn leaf blight, corn breeding, and genetic disease resistance.  His most notable achievement was the 1970 discovery of Helminthosporium maydis race T--the pathogenic cause of southern corn leaf blight.  He then worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the seed production industry to develop blight-resistant corn hybrids.  He later used these seed production techniques to develop hybrids resistant to corn rust and stalk rot.  Hooker's research on the genetics of corn leaf blight helped revolutionize the field of plant genetics and plant breeding.  He published over 160 articles during his career, and he was invited to speak and consult in nineteen countries, including the Republics of South Africa and Yugoslavia.

Professor Hooker enjoyed a distinguished career as a plant pathologist and geneticist.  He was a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Agronomy, and the Crop Science Society of America.  While at the University of Illinois, Hooker was awarded the Paul A. Funk Award, which recognizes outstanding service to the field of agriculture through research and teaching.  He also received a commendation from the Illinois General Assembly in 1971 for his research on the state's southern corn leaf blight epidemic.

Arthur Hooker married Ellen Margaret Zimmerman in 1950.  They had two children, David Lee and Margaret Ann Hooker.  Arthur Hooker died on July 4, 1991, after a short battle with cancer.


D. White, "Arthur Lee Hooker: Distinguished in Combining Plant Patholoy, Corn Breeding and Genetics," in Maize Genetics and Breeding in the 20th Century, edited by Peter A. Peterson and Angelo Bianchi (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 1999): 217-223.

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