Obituary | James “Jim” R. Alfano

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Obituary | James “Jim” R. Alfano

Jim Alfano
Jim Alfano

James “Jim” Robert Alfano, 56, Charles Bessey Professor of plant pathology, died Nov. 21 following a battle with cancer.

Alfano served 17 years with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, joining the faculty in 2002. He was named director of the Department of Plant Pathology’s undergraduate microbiology program in 2011. He also served as a member of the university’s Center for Plant Science Innovation.

Alfano’s research focused on how bacteria pathogens that cause plant diseases differ from those in animals. Studies in his lab were specifically directed at understanding type III secretion systems, a specialized protein apparatus present in gram-negative bacteria pathogens in plants and animals.


In 2012, Alfano was named a fellow of the American Association of Advancement of Science. And, in 2015, he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Before coming to Nebraska, Alfano served as an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas from 1997 to 2002 and in a postdoctoral position at Cornell University from 1993 to 1997.

Alfano earned a doctorate in microbiology from Washington State University in 1993.

A celebration of life will be held on campus on Dec. 15. Additional details will be announced.