College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Department of Plant Pathology

Arthur Kelman

Arthur KelmanUniversity Distinguished Scholar

Kelman Scholars Program


Arthur Kelman is a native of Rhode Island and received his undergraduate degree in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Rhode Island. He received both his M.S. and Ph. D. degrees from North Carolina State University following military service in World War II. He then joined the faculty of Plant Pathology at NCSU where he had a distinguished career as an internationally renowned teacher, researcher and scholar. In mid-career he was recruited to lead the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin. While there he continued his scholarly activities and was recognized for his research, teaching and service to his discipline. Following retirement he returned to Raleigh and remained actively affiliated with NCSU and the profession of Plant Pathology.

Early in his career at N. C. State, Dr. Kelman pioneered their efforts in disciplinary research. He championed the importance of increasing our level of understanding of complex biological problems in order to improve our practical contributions. Many significant contributions to the understanding and control of Granville Wilt of flue-cured tobacco including the development of resistant cultivars are attributed to his efforts. Dr. Kelman is also credited with initiation of the Forest Pathology Program at NCSU. He was commended for his many contributions at N. C. State by being appointed to a William Neal Reynolds Professorship. He continued his research at the University of Wisconsin on bacterial plant pathogens and the diseases they cause and is noted for his contributions on pathogens of potatoes and other vegetables. He made numerous fundamental and practical contributions to the mechanisms of virulence and pathogenesis and the ecology and control of phytobacteria. Those achievements are still accepted today as both innovative and of practical value. While at the University of Wisconsin he was the L. R. Jones Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology and a Wisconsin Alumni Research Alumni Fellow. Dr. Kelman was elected to the National Academy of Sciences for his pioneering contributions to the study of phytobacteriology. It is noteworthy that during his tenure as a distinguished fundamental scientist he was also recognized by numerous commodity groups for the impact he had in controlling bacterial diseases of those crops.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Kelman was as committed to teaching and mentoring as he was to his research. He had tremendous impact on undergraduate and graduate students alike. He was the master at teaching the introductory, undergraduate courses in Plant Pathology at both institutions and for his efforts was the recipient of outstanding teaching awards at the college and university level at both N. C. State and the University of Wisconsin. His courses, while respected for their rigor, were popular among students and many of his former students have gone on to be leaders in the discipline. He was a highly respected mentor of graduate students and those relationships often resulted in career long associations. His skill as a mentor is legendary and extends well beyond students to include many young faculty members and administrators.

In addition to his efforts as a scientist and teacher, he exerted considerable leadership in the institutions he served and his professional societies. He was active in faculty governance and was Chair of the University Committee at Wisconsin. He was elected Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (APS), AAAS, and the American Academy of Microbiology and served as president of both APS and the International Society of Plant Pathology. Following retirement from the University of Wisconsin, he returned to Raleigh and was appointed Distinguished University Scholar at NCSU and served one term as the Chief Scientist for the USDA-NRI grants program. Dr. Kelman's exceptional career as a scientist, mentor, and leader provide an enviable legacy in plant pathology and agricultural research for generations to come.