Testimonials for Pioneer Member Thomas Hodges

Nelson E. Balke – I first met Tom in the Spring 1971, when I was graduating with a B.S. in Agricultural Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I ultimately decided to take a break from higher education and worked for a year. By Fall 1972 I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, so I contacted Tom, who had moved to Purdue University in the intervening year. Thus, my decision to postpone grad school for a year was fortuitous, because I avoided being involved in moving Tom’s lab from Urbana to West Lafayette, IN.

I spent 5 years in the Hodges’ lab, completing both my M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. I arrived in the lab shortly after Tom and Rob Leonard, a postdoc, had successfully developed a procedure for isolating plasma membrane (pm) vesicles from oat roots; the first time that had been accomplished. Interest in the plasma membrane centered on an ATPase that energized mineral ion transport across the pm. It was an exciting time in the lab! Tom’s group was small at that time, and thus each of us received a lot of assistance directly from him. Tom was always willing to provide encouragement and direction when it was needed or desired. At the same time, he allowed a person more and more freedom as (s)he progressed in learning the science and art of experimentation.

I have and always will consider my 5 years in the Hodges’ lab at Purdue as some of the best years of my life. We worked hard and we played hard. We became a close-knit family. We learned how to do science. What more can one ask for during grad school!?! And the culmination of those 5 years resulted in me becoming an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on September 1, 1977. That was also fortuitous timing, because Tom became Dept. Head two months before I graduated from Purdue. I could not have chosen a better major professor for my graduate work. Tom and I have remained close friends through the years and I still consider him my mentor. Nelson E. Balke Retired Professor UW-Madison

Michael Becwar – Tom was a most influential mentor and scientist for me. He helped point my career on a path that led to my working in industry as a research scientist. I feel that he saw the potential to apply my training as a plant physiologist to join his team as a Post-doc working on maize biotechnology. Not only was it a pivotal step in my career path to work in Tom’s lab at Purdue University, but it was also at Purdue that I met Joyce, who became my wife. So, Tom not only enabled my career in plant biotechnology, but also enabled me to make a personal connection that resulted in my family. My sincere thanks and recognition for Thomas K Hodges as a Pioneer of ASPB.

Nick Carpita – Tom, I am happy to have been invited to become a part of the effort to honor you for your lifetime achievements in understanding the biochemistry, cell biology, and biophysics of ion transport and ion-activated channels. I am most grateful to you for giving me my start in science at Purdue and for your mentorship on what it takes to succeed. It apparently worked. After some 40+ years at Purdue, Maureen and I are taking up a new challenge in beautiful Colorado at the National Renewable Energy Lab. Of course, my fondest memories will always be sharing good food and wine with Halina and you, and enjoying basketball games together. Until our next foray into Napa and Sonoma Valley, Best wishes, Nick and Maureen

John Hall III – I was Dr. Hodges’ student in his Plant Physiology class at the University of Illinois in 1963. He was an excellent teacher and I remember taking copious notes. He offered me an opportunity to obtain my M.S. degree under his supervision. He led me through resrarch on ADP and ATP, which was eventually published with him and me as co-author. I was in ROTC and was inducted into active duty immediately upon graduating. In April 1966, I was sent to Vietnam. Dr Hodges wrote me a letter when I was in Vietnam and said that he had interacted with Dr. Robert Miller of Ohio State University and recommended he consider me for a graduate assistantship. Before I left Vietnam, I received a letter from Dr. Miller requesting that I submit a letter requesting an assistantship in Agronomy. I was released from active duty in July of 1967 and went to Ohio State University to work on my Ph. D, which I completed in 1971. I spent my career as a turfgrass specialist at the University of Maryland and at Virginia Tech. None of my professional success would have been accomplished without the confidence, knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm that Dr. Hodges instilled in me. He was an important foundational block in my professional career.

Enamul Huq – Tom, you have been a great mentor, a role model and a lifelong friend. Thanks for giving me the freedom that I enjoyed in your lab. Your support and encouragement were crucial for my career. I still enjoy talking to you on the phone and will continue to do so for years to come. Wish you good health and happiness!

Robert T. Leonard – Tom was not only a great mentor during my postdoctoral study in his laboratory, but he is also a life long friend. We first met while I was a graduate student working with John B, Hanson at the University of Illinois. Tom was an assistant professor teaching a graduate course on ion transport in plants. I was very impressed with his knowledge of the subject matter and his thoroughness as a lecturer. After I completed my Ph.D. degree, I moved with Tom to Purdue University to help him set up his new laboratory. We not only worked together in the laboratory, but we shared early morning car pool rides to campus as well as the long ride home on cold Midwest winter evenings. He not only taught me how to do science, but also how to enjoy the company of a fellow scientist even when the day’s experiments didn’t go as planned.

Hong Luo – I was fortunate to be the last post-doc of Dr. Thomas Hodges before his retirement. He has been and still is one of the most influential figures who helped shape my scientific career. I remember how I met him in person the very first time when my whole family flew to Indianapolis from Europe on a hot, humid July afternoon. Tom had been waiting for us in a van at the airport, and he was sweating badly. Because of a long delay to our flight, that was his second trip there to pick us up. Not long after chatting with him on our way to West Lafayette, I realized how right my decision was to join his lab. His humor, his contagious smile and great personality quickly drew me close to him and since has made me his absolute fan. With my genuine interest in agricultural biotechnology research, I had applied for the post-doc position Tom posted in the ASPB job bank. After several rounds of email exchanges, Tom offered me the position. At the time, I was excited about the opportunity, yet a little worried about the effect of the forthcoming move to an unknown continent on my academic career. All my concerns went away the very first day I started interacting with him. My project in Tom’s lab was to study and establish a novel site-specific DNA recombination-mediated hybrid plant production system. The research went quite well, and we soon demonstrated the feasibility of this new approach in Arabidopsis and later on further extended it to rice. I was very impressed by Tom’s insight and vision to applying knowledge from basic research in solving problems in agriculture production, which ignited my desire and very much shaped the direction of my research during my independent scientific career. As a mentor, Tom provided excellent opportunities for his students to become well-rounded scientists. During my stay in his lab, he provided many opportunities for me to participate in manuscript and grant proposal reviews, as well as grant writing. This training was instrumental in helping me make a smooth transition to a faculty position and running my own lab, and I have been following suit training my own students the same way. Even nowadays, I communicate with him on many things, science, non-science alike. To me, Tom is an excellent plant scientist, an entrepreneur and a life-long mentor.

Jianying Peng – Tom was my PhD adviser. His dedication to his students and science has always inspired me to do the same in my career. He is also a very funny and competitive guy.

Keerti Rathore – As a Ph.D. student and as a postdoctoral trainee, I have worked in three different labs. The reason to join Hodges’ lab was to learn plant biotechnology, as my research interests had shifted from elctrophysiology to biotechnology. The environment in Hodges’ lab was very professional in terms of doing science, but otherwise very relaxed in terms of personal interactions with Dr. Hodges. One can talk to him about ANY subject/issue. He was also known for playing practical jokes on his colleagues and knowing this, I and a few others did the same and played practical jokes at his expense. But he handled it very well. In terms of science, he gave us freedom to explore new ideas while working on our assigned project. This allowed me to learn and grow professionally in a scientific field that was totally new to me before joining his lab, and it laid the foundation for my current work on genetic engineering and gene editing of important crops. Dr. Hodges is the only mentor with whom I still keep in touch. I wish him all the best.

Heven Sze – I was so fortunate to meet Tom in my first year as a graduate student. He persuaded me to join his lab to discover as yet unknown, the first ion-pumping ATPase in plants. Unlike many professors, Tom enjoyed interacting with all lab members and created a very friendly and congenial atmosphere. The whole lab had lunch together every day. We would drive to ASPP meetings together. Thank you Tom for getting me hooked on transport and membrane biology, and being a great mentor and friend for over 50 years!

Mark Willman – Dr. Thomas K. Hodges gave me an opportunity I will never forget. I was a recent Ph.D. graduate in plant breeding form the University of Illinois. He offered me a post-doctoral position at Purdue University working on the genetics of maize regeneration from tissue culture. I found Dr. Hodge’s passion for research invigorating and fun. His expert staff was extremely supportive and efficient. While my home for just a short time, I came away with a great blessing from knowing and working with Tom and the many people in his lab. I also left Purdue with a great treasure – my wife! Thank you, Tom, for taking a chance on me and giving me a brief respite in your lab