Pesek Receives American Society of Agronomy Presidential Award, Honored With Portrait in Agronomy Hall

John Pesek, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture and agronomy emeritus professor, is the recipient of the inaugural American Society of Agronomy Presidential Award. Presenting the award on behalf of the American Society of Agronomy is Iowa State University Agronomy Professor Ken Moore.

(Editor’s note: Photos of John Pesek, the award presentation and portrait are available by contacting Melea Reicks Licht.)

AMES, Iowa — The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) has announced John Pesek, Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture 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, California.

“I was honored to nominate Dr. Pesek for this initial ASA Presidential Award,” said ASA President David Mengel, 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.”

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 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.