15th Aug 1913 - 23rd Feb 2004

Francis Cope
T+T Icons In Science & Technology Volume I

Francis William Cope was born on August 15th 1913 in Portsmouth, England. He attended the Municipal College in Portsmouth and graduated with a Bachelor of Science (General) with honours in botany, chemistry and mathematics in 1934. He was awarded a Royal Scholarship to study botany and geology at the Royal College of Science and Technology, University of London. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Special) with First Class Honours in 1936.

From 1937 to 1940, he served as junior botanist for cocoa research at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture (ICTA) in Trinidad, where his principal interest was in incompatibility studies. Cope noted some factors that controlled the yield of young cacao, such as the self-compatible trees being superior in yield of harvested pods to the self-incompatible tree. In addition to conducting research, he taught plant physiology at ICTA.

In 1940, he left for Grenada to operate the Cocoa Industry Improvement Scheme. Later he represented the Caribbean at the very first Cocoa Conference, which was held in London in 1945. That same year, he obtained his M.Sc. from the University of London. He was appointed Cocoa Agronomist to the Windward Islands in 1946 and was responsible for researching cocoa breeding and training cocoa plant breeders in the region.

Returning to work at ICTA from 1948-1962, he undertook a two-year expedition to the Amazon forests in Colombia to collect cacoa and its germplasm. In 1959 he worked out the compatibility/incompatibility system in Theobroma cacao and for his seminal work, he was awarded the Ph.D. from the University of London.

In 1962, Dr. Cope began teaching plant breeding and the botany of tropical crops at the Faculty of Agriculture, UWI. Generations of plant breeders were introduced to the subject and trained by him. He was an editor of the journal of the Faculty, Tropical Agriculture, and became Editor-in-Chief.

He was the first Head of the Department of Biological Sciences (a union of the former departments of Botany and Plant Pathology, Zoology and Entomology). In 1967, he was appointed Professor of Botany and after his retirement in 1973, he received the title Professor Emeritus.

Professor Cope relocated to the United Kingdom in 1984, where he died on February 23rd 2004.

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