Iowa State University Mourns Loss of Seed Pathologist Lisa Shepherd

July 30, 2015

Iowa State University lost one of its most avid Cyclone fans, Seed Science Center advocates, and internationally respected experts in seed pathology this week. Lisa Shepherd, 43, Director of the administrative unit of the National Seed Health System and Seed Health Testing Coordinator for the University’s Seed Science Center, passed away July 1 at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames following a brief battle with ​amyloidosis and multiple myeloma.

Lisa enjoyed life to the fullest and excelled at helping others. She was a tireless champion for phytosanitary issues relating to seed health and was highly regarded by seed industry colleagues from around the world for her expertise in seed-borne diseases and plant pathology. Lisa possessed natural leadership ability and an infectious enthusiasm that benefitted both Iowa State University and the seed industry.

Lisa, B.Sc. Agronomy and Crop Science, Seed Science ’95; and M.S. Plant Pathology ’99, served as a Seed Health Testing Coordinator for the Seed Science Center at Iowa State University. An employee of the Seed Science Center since 1999, she conducted one of the most active phytosanitary seed testing programs in the country. Lisa and her team performed tests on more than 350 different host-pathogen combinations; due to her ingenuity and experience, the ISU Seed Health Testing lab became the go-to laboratory for export seed testing.

As Director of the administrative unit of the National Seed Health System (NSHS), Lisa facilitated the accreditation of private companies to conduct phytosanitary testing and worked to standardize seed health laboratory and field inspection methods across the U.S. She collaborated with the USDA-APHIS-PPQ and the American Seed Trade Association on international trade issues dealing with seed and assisted the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa Crop Improvement Association in establishing training methods for the phytosanitary field inspection program. She focused her efforts on seed industry issues including compliance with the laboratory ISO:9000 program, NSHS accreditation, and science-based solutions  to remove unnecessary phytosanitary restrictions. She also worked with farmers and seed companies to provide information and answers on seed pathology concerns.

During her career, Lisa served as Chair of the American Seed Trade Association Emerging Diseases Committee; Chair and member of the American Phytopathological Society Seed Pathology Committee; and as a member of the National Seed Health System/Plant Protection and Quarantine/National Plant Board Advisory Group.

Originally from Humboldt, Iowa, Lisa and her husband Andy resided in Nevada, Iowa. Lisa is survived by her husband Andy Jenkins, her mother Marianne Shepherd, her sister Kim Bartels, her brother-in-law Ed Bartels and niece Rachel Bartels.

A memorial service was held at the Iowa State University Memorial Union in the Great Hall on Friday, July 10th 2015.