Dr. Zoran Ristic, 55, died Oct. 18, 2009 after a long battle with cancer. Dr. Ristic was born on Dec. 15, 1953, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. He had one older brother, Ljubisa. He received bachelors and master's degrees from the University of Belgrade and his PhD in Plant Structure and Development from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.
Dr. Ristic and his family moved to the United States in 1991, when he became a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. He then became a faculty member in the Biology Department at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he worked for 12 years, rising to the rank of Professor. While at USD, Dr. Ristic received several awards, including the President's Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2002. Since January 2005, Dr. Ristic was a Research Plant Physiologist for the United States Department of Agriculture in Manhattan, KS. Here, Dr. Ristic conducted research in the heat stress tolerance of wheat and corn. He also was an adjunct professor for the Dept. of Agronomy at Kansas State University in Manhattan.
Dr. Ristic also collaborated on several projects with the scientific community. One of his projects was with Dr. Amir Ibrahim of Texas A&M; together they tested and mapped new sources of heat tolerance in wild tetraploid wheat. Dr. Ristic will be included as a principal author on this ongoing research once it is completed.
"Due to global warming and increased demand for heat-tolerant wheat genotypes, this kind of research is highly needed, and thanks to the vision and hard work of Dr. Ristic, he was finding solutions to this problem," Ibrahim said. "This loss will be felt among the scientific community who dealt in some way or another with Zoran: the crop physiologists, breeders, geneticists, etc."
Dr. Ristic was a member of the American Society of Plant Biologists, The United States Tennis Association and the United States Youth Soccer Association, where he received his National "D" Coaching License. He was also an active tennis player at Cottonwood Racquet Club in Manhattan.
Dr. Ristic is survived by his wife, Mira, daughter and son-in-law, Anna and Devin Milowe, Omaha, NE, and daughter, Maya, Manhattan, KS. He was preceded in death by his parents Djordje and Katarina (Panovic) Ristic.
A visitation at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Omaha, NE was held at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 23, with a funeral service at 11 a.m. at the church (5050 Harrison St.,) followed by interment at Evergreen Cemetery.
Anyone who is interested may send flowers to 1608 Little Kitten Ave., Manhatten, KS 66503.