Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dr. Robert Eugene Eplee, Sr., Remembered

WHITEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA, USA -- Dr. Robert (Bob) Eugene Eplee Sr., 79, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Bob is best known and remembered for his research on the biology and control of Witchweed [(Striga asiatica (L.) Kuntze], a parasitic weed that is native to Africa and Asia, that was first discovered in southeastern North Carolina, in July, 1956. Thanks in large part to his 30 year research program to develop methods and equipment for the USDA-Carolinas Witchweed Eradication Program, the infestation has been reduced from 432,000 acres in the North and South Carolina Coastal Plain (1970) to 1,542 acres (end of 2012).

The principles and practices he developed in the Witchweed Program also contributed greatly to the development of new approaches for invasive species prevention in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some examples include:
  • Weed Science Society of America Liaison for Passage of the Federal Noxious Weeds Act of 1974
  • Science and Technical Support for Federal-State Weed Eradication Programs (e.g., Goatsrue in Utah, Common Crupina in Idaho, Hydrilla in California and Florida, and Japanese Dodder in South Carolina – 1981-2000)
  • Original member - U.S. Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds (FICMNEW) (1990)
  • Development of Interagency Approaches for Early Detection and Rapid Response to New and Emerging Invasive Plants through State Invasive Species Councils and Committees (e.g., Wyoming Weed Team – 1998) and Invasive Plant Task Forces (North Carolina Giant Salvinia Task Force - 2002) 
Read the tribute to Dr. Eplee