Joe F. Hennen (1928  )

Joe F. Hennen, along with Catherine Aime and the Aime Lab
Joe F. Hennen (centre), along with Catherine Aime (current Director - far right) and the Aime Lab (left to right: Jordan Bailey, Andy Wilson, Jorge Diaz, Rachel Koch and Merje Toome) at the Botanical Research Institue, Texas.

Dr. Joe F. Hennen was born 6 January 1928 in Sherman, Texas. He first became seriously interested in plant taxonomy in undergraduate courses taught by the late Dr. Lloyd Shinners at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. After receiving his B.S. from S.M.U. in 1950, he did graduate work in plant pathology and taxonomy of rust fungi in the Arthur Herbarium at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. He received his M.S. in 1952 and Ph.D. in 1954 working with George B. Cummins​.

The combination of the study of taxonomy of vascular plants and rust fungi is especially interesting to Hennen. The intricacies of coevolution of rusts with their hosts has long been an area of speculation and research for rust taxonomists and plant pathologists. Hennen’s experience as a cereal crops plant pathologist in South Dakota State University from 1954 to 1958 impressed him especially with the concept that the geographic centers of genetic diversity for crop plants often coincide with the centers of taxonomic diversity of their obligate parasites.

Joe F. Hennen
Joe F. Hennen at his home office/lab in Fort Worth, Texas (2013)

From 1958 to 1968, Hennen taught a wide range of undergraduate botany courses at Indiana State University. He returned to Purdue as Professor of Botany and Plant Pathology and Curator of the Arthur Herbarium in 1968, he then became Director upon Cummins' reitrement.

One of the most important experiences for Hennen has been his field work in several regions of the United States, Central America, and especially Mexico and Brazil. Continued study of the taxonomy of Neotropical rust fungi is his long term ambition. Hennen moved to Texas after retiring from from Purdue where he is currently a resident research associate at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth.