The farm was named after R. James Cook in celebration of his highly productive career in research and public service for agriculture and environmental sustainability. His research shaped modern crop management methods to raise healthy crops by keeping pathogen populations, particularly soil pathogens, under control. He made many contributions to our basic understanding of how agricultural practices manipulate populations of harmful and beneficial microbes in the soil and was a leader in the field of biocontrol of plant diseases. He pioneered the use of bacteria that grow on root surfaces and control fungal diseases not amenable to control by other methods. By genetic analysis of the effective bacterial strains, he and his coworkers determined that phenazine-type antibiotics are involved in biocontrol of root infecting pathogens.
Among many other honors Dr. Cook received over the course of his career, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and continues to support the agricultural sciences through this organization.