Bob Martin's interests are as diverse as the berry crops of which he is so passionate. Perhaps this is the result of growing up with 10 siblings and adapting to the wide variety of personalities and priorities on the family dairy farm in Wisconsin. Hard work and a can-do attitude shaped Bob's world view and the result is an ever-present smile and optimism that influences both his personal and professional life.
Armed with a B.S. in Forestry and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bob set out for the west coast to hone his expertise in strawberry viruses.
Bob Martin's seminal work on double-stranded RNA led to the development of protocols for the high-throughput sequencing of plant viruses. He also discovered and elucidated the epidemiology of the important viruses of strawberry, Rubus and blueberry. Dr. Martin was also one of the pioneers of transgenic technology in the quest to develop virus-resistant plants. Since 2000, Bob's research has focused on virus complexes and elucidation of diseases of unknown etiology. He and his group of fellow researchers have identified and studied more than 70 virus species infecting berries, vegetables, aromatic plants and ornamentals.
Dr. Martin works closely with growers, identifying and addressing problems as they arise in the field, and developing methods for both diagnostics and disease management. This work has had tremendous impact and resulted in economic benefits for berry growers in the United States and throughout the world where these crops are planted.
Most of Bob's siblings have advanced degrees and several have made similar contributions to the agricultural industry. His sister, Rose Gergerich, is faculty emeritus in plant virology at University of Arkansas and served as the NCPN-Berries coordinator for many years. And as siblings will do, she delights in dishing details that don't appear on Bob's CV. Apparently among friends and family, Bob is known for his love of good wine and Mountain Dew. In fact, one of his hobbies is making wine, and to anyone who knows Bob, it is no surprise that he has chosen the label “Bottled Optimism.” Considering his rural roots and extensive contributions to U.S. agriculture, it is also not surprising that one of Bob's favorite country tunes is "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" sung by John Denver. Berry lovers around the world are equally grateful.