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Vol. 20 No. 3 - July 2014

In Memoriam: A Tribute to Prof. Sagar Krupa

By: Dr. María de Lourdes de la Isla de Bauer*

“Sagar V. Krupa is gone but his enthusiastic

approach to science and life remains with us”

His background

Born in India, he showed as a young scholar a remarkable skill not only for learning but for applying his knowledge as he took his B. S. and M. S. in Botany at the Andhra and Madras Universities. Out of numerous competitors, he was selected as Research Fellow at Madras University during the years 1961-1965, and teaching assistant in the Plant Pathology Lab, 1962.

His spirit of looking for additional knowledge led him to apply and obtain a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin in the United States in 1965 where he pursued an M.S. in Plant Pathology under the direction of Professor Luis Sequeira. It was there that he met Nancy, his life companion and a very important person in his life and career. They were married in 1967.

He continued his studies in Sweden at the University of Uppsala, Institute of Physiological Botany, as a teaching assistant and research fellow under the direction of Professor Nils Fries, where he earned a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology. He continued as a Postdoctoral Fellow and in 1972 received the highest scholarly degree of Docent from the University of Uppsala.

Returning to the United States, he became a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Minnesota in the Dept. of Soils. His talent was recognized by Dr. Al Wood, Head of the Dept. of Plant Pathology, who was to become another important person in Sagar´s life. That following year, 1973, he hired Sagar as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Plant Pathology, assigned to an interdisciplinary project “The impact of air pollution on crops and ecosystems”.

One year later he became Assistant Professor in the Plant Pathology Dept., and in 1979 an Associate Professor, and in 1985 Full Professor until his retirement in 2009. Besides teaching, Sagar did extensive research while at the University of Minnesota, obtaining many grants in excess of 8 million dollars.

As one of his first achievements he organized a very successful workshop in 1974 in Minneapolis on Air Pollution sponsored by the U. of Minnesota. Several well-known and prestigious scientists came from different parts of the U. S. and Canada. Among them, Dr. Allan Legge, with whom he later on organized, in 1980, the International Conference on Air Pollution in Banff, Canada.

International achievements

In the meantime, the critical levels of ozone in the metropolitan area of Mexico City were demonstrated by the use of plant as bioindicators. Thus, Dr. Krupa was invited in 1976 to come to Mexico to teach and to recognize the possible damages in the local conditions, specifically at the influenced wind movement areas already described by Jauregui, 1958.

Damage by ozone and PAN was found in the areas located Southeast and Southwest of the city on vegetable crops like lettuce in Xochimilco and in Ajusco, the characteristic chlorotic mottle on the older needles was observed on Pinus hartwegii. This discovery was very interesting to Californian scientists like Dr. Paul Miller. After observations and some studies, it was concluded that the situation in the forests near Mexico City and San Bernardino Mountains in California, EE. UU. have similarities.

His way of teaching was remarkable and over several decades he taught almost every year a short course 1-2 weeks long in the different campiof Colegio de Postgraduados. A special occasion was a Commemorative Workshop to celebrate 40 years of the institution (1959-1999). Its title was “GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE AND TERRESTIAL ECOSYSTEMS”.It drew 55 attendees of several institutions during two days. Professor Krupa gave splendid presentations on the topics:

  • Air Pollution, the Driving force

  • Responses of Agricultural Ecosystems

  • Responses of Forest Ecosystems

  • Uncertainties in the Knowledge

In the meantime, he helped students to pursue in the field of Air Pollution. In particular Tomás Hernández Tejeda who had the opportunity to spend six months under his guidance at the Plant Pathology Department of Minnesota. This was the start of Tomás Hernández important contributions in the area. His interest in Plant Pathology concerning biotic pathogens remained alive as shown by the research he conducted tracing the soybean rust arrival to America reporting its appearance in U. S. and Mexico.

He was very interested and successful in getting together the most brilliant scientists of the area, working on projects and attending and organizing meetings specially the Air Pollution Annual Workshops. He had the brilliant idea to celebrate in 2007 the Air Pollution Workshop (APW-39) in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, a beloved city of his and Nancy’s. The meeting was very successful as the participants remembered it years thereafter. The wish to repeat it was with him during years and finally, as one of his last wishes, the APW 46 was celebrated in Guadalajara, Jalisco, April 2014. Most of his friends came, Allan Legge, Andrew McDonough, Anil Kumar Mishra, Carl Bernacchi, Cesareo Landeros, David Gay, Gary Lovett, Judi Kryzanowski, Kevin Percy, Lorenzo Cotrozzi, María de Lourdes de la Isla de Bauer, Mark Fenn, Matthew Landis, Patricia Romero-Lankao, Rainer Matyssek, Santiago Sánchez Preciado, Shaun Watmough, Sirkku Manninen, S.T. Rao, TeisMikkelsen and Viney Aneja.

It was both a sad and successful “farewell…”


*Programa de Hidrociencias, Colegio de Posgraduados, Montecillo, México.

Prof. de Bauer is a member of International Advisory Committee of ICPEP-5. She had attended ICPEP-2 Conference at CSIR-NBRI Lucknow in February 2002. She has penned this article on invitation of Environews.

Author offers special thanks to Nancy Krupa for her help with information about Professor Krupa’s early career.

This article has been reproduced from the archives of EnviroNews - Newsletter of ISEB India.

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