Sherman Thomson, a plant pathologist at Utah State University, has been named to receive the 1988 E.G. Petersen Extension Award, given each year to the outstanding USU Extension employee.

The award, to be presented to Thomson at USU's centennial commencement June 4, is named for E.G. Peterson, the first director of Utah State's Extension Service and president of Utah State Agricultural College from 1916 to 1945. Thomson is the third recipient."Sherm is a premier diagnostician who has the ability to recognize the cause of a disease problem and provide appropriate corrective measures," said R. Paul Larsen, vice president for University Extension. "He is a superb teacher of extension staff as well as farmers throughout the state."

Thomson, the first full-time plant pathologist in Utah, joined USU in 1978 after four years as an assistant professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Among his accomplishments, Thomson developed a prediction system used worldwide for the control of fire blight of pear and apple. He also established Utah's first plant disease clinic, and through his efforts the clinic has now evolved into an integrated plant pest clinic to help Utah growers identify diseases, insects and forest problems.

In 1983 Thomson identified a systemic powdery disease of tomatoes in Utah that was new to North America. Through his research he developed control measures, and the disease is now a minor problem. He also recognized verticillium wilt of alfalfa in Utah and the widespread losses it has caused, and has educated growers on dealing with the infection.

He was involved in the release of two sweet cherry varieties, Utah Giant and Sweet Ann, both resistant to a disease called western X.

Other research includes projects on powdery mildews of cherry and apple, epidemiology and prediction of fire blight, snow mold of winter wheat and toxin production in fescue pastures.

Thomson has been heavily involved in the use of integrated pest management to control pest problems in fruit crops while reducing the use of pesticides. He has done consulting work in New Zealand, Mexico and Chile.

He publishes a regular Plant Disease Advisory as well as plant disease bulletins on crops ranging from alfalfa to turf.