Bill Fry came to Cornell University first as a graduate student in 1966 and then returned to the faculty in 1971. He has been an assistant, associate, full professor, and, after retirement in 2012, professor emeritus in the Department of Plant Pathology (now Plant Pathology and Microbe-Biology). His scholarly specialization has been the late blight disease of potatoes and tomatoes caused by the oomycete pathogen, Phytophthora infestans. Prof. Fry’s lab confirmed major worldwide migrations of this pathogen during the latter quarter of the 20th century and predicted implications to potato production worldwide.
His research topics range from epidemiology and management to population genetics, to molecular biology and genomics. Activities include molecular manipulations in the lab to phenotypic assessments in the growth chamber, to epidemiological manipulations in the field. The most recent activities have been to characterize and investigate the implications of global migrations of P. infestans, adjusting a computer simulation model to reflect the pathogenicity characteristics of current populations of P. infestans, investigations to use the simulation model in connection with weather forecasts for “real time” decision making, gene profiling of host resistance in the field, analysis of candidate resistance genes via Virus Induced Gene Silencing in tomatoes, and investigation of viruses in P. infestans for molecular manipulation and as expression vectors in P. infestans for gene silencing/expression.