A Tribute to Dr. Barbara Shew

NCSU Research And Extension Plant Pathologist A Voice Of Accuracy And Precision

• By David Jordan •

David Jordan
North Carolina State University

This fall, Dr. Barbara Shew will retire after many years of contributions to the peanut industry. Her work has encompassed the core components of the land-grant system — Extension, research and teaching — and in doing so, she has touched the lives of many people.

We are all very appreciative of her presence in the field, classroom, in front of an audience of peanut growers, around a table of eastern North Carolina seafood or barbeque, and in more formal settings such as the annual meeting of the American Peanut Research and Education Society and the American Phytopathological Society.

In each of these settings, Barbara conveys a clear message of support and appreciation for the people in front of her with an eye toward helping someone else be successful. In helping others, Barbara has been very successful in her role in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

Clear Message Of Support

I personally have gained much from Barbara’s presence and integrity as a person and a scientist. Those who have been around me know that my organizational skills are not the best and are somewhat lacking. My field maps have been found on the bottom of paper plates, and I have been known to write down important data on a truck tool box or tailgate, a plot stake or on yellow flags that have been sitting in the field all year.

I think I remember the results of a trial, only to find that the summary in my head and the words to express it weren’t quite right. My peanut-breeding friends would cringe at my stack of plot plans and notes for the year held together by a single clip.

My point is not to dwell on my limitations but to contrast them with a skilled and effective scientist — Dr. Barbara Shew. Often times, the words accurate and precise are contrasted, and on many occasions, students in prelims are asked to state which of these is more important.

With Barbara, people in our industry have witnessed someone that is both accurate and precise in her work and in her words. Both of these matter.

An Example Of Integrity

barbara shewClearly presenting both the strengths and limitations of her research findings and their application are what peanut farmers and those who support them need. We work in a landscape that can vary from field to field, day to day and certainly year to year. When combined with people’s personalities and views, what helps farmers the most is a clear message that is as accurate and as precise as possible. At times, I find myself telling someone what they want to hear (in most cases after trying twice to tell them what they really do need to hear.)

Barbara does not fall into that trap, and she has always stayed the course on what she knows in her recommendations. This applies not only to plant pathology but also to life. We have all gained from her integrity and rigor.

Barbara, we will truly miss both your presence and your message. You have taught us much about how to work with people and peanuts in ways that bring out the best in both. We wish you all the best in your next phase of life after North Carolina State University.

— David Jordan
North Carolina State University
Extension peanut specialist[divider]

Tributes To Dr. Barbara Shew

bob sutterPeanut growers must find answers to many problems that arise in peanut fields. When it came to diseases, they knew that they could get help from their Extension agent.

Dr. Shew worked with dedication to make sure findings from her research were transferred quickly to agents and consultants. Whether through the agent or in person, Dr. Shew brought NCSU and the College of Ag and Life Sciences to the farm.

Thank you, Barbara, for all of your work. We will miss you.

— Bob Sutter
North Carolina Peanut Growers executive secretary

◆ ◆ ◆

rick brandenburgMy observations are that Barb has always exhibited many admirable qualities. Maybe I just noticed them because they are ones that I battle. These include being highly organized, highly focused and her attention to detail. Barb always sought to provide solid answers in her research and to provide that information to growers in a timely manner and in a format that can be adapted to most any farming situation.

For many years, she has worked diligently with little fanfare and provided outstanding disease management programs for growers in North Carolina and beyond. Her collaborative spirit, deep desire to serve peanut growers and the entire industry as well as her mentoring role of younger female faculty in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology have been invaluable.

Barb will indeed leave a legacy of integrity and putting others first. We will miss Barb for reasons far beyond her peanut pathology expertise. Best wishes.

— Rick Brandenburg
NCSU Extension entomologist and longtime colleague

◆ ◆ ◆

albert culbreathBarbara is an outstanding scientist dedicated to the proposition that we should seek the truth and preach it. I certainly appreciate her abilities and accomplishments, but even more appreciate her spirit, always willing to help any way she can.

She has certainly helped and encouraged me. Barbara has a brilliant mind, paragonal character, a big heart and a keen sense of humor.

— Albert Culbreath
University of Georgia research pathologist[divider]

Barbara, we will truly miss both your presence and your message. You have taught us much about how to work with people and peanuts in ways that bring out the best in both. We wish you all the best in your next phase of life after North Carolina State University.

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