Professor H K. Saksena (Hari Krishna Saksena) was born on December 21, 1922 at Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh. He received his early education at Allahabad and obtained M.Sc. degree in Botany with specialization in Plant Pathology in 1944. Thereafter, he joined the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi for Associateship and worked with the distinguished Mycologist, the late Dr. B.B. Mundkur from 1944-46. He also worked for one year with Dr. R. Prasada at IARI on gram rust and demonstrated that Trigonella polycerata served as a collateral host of this rust. After serving for a short period as a lecturer in the Department of Botany, Delhi University, Dr. Saksena proceeded to Australia for his Ph.D. degree at Waite Agricultural Research.Institute to work with Dr. N.T. Flentze on the genus Rhizoctonia. After obtaining Ph.D. degree in 1952, he served as a lecturer in the Botany Department at Allahabad University and later moved to the premier Agricultural Institute in Uttar Pradesh, Government Agricultural College, Kanpur in 1953 as Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology. In 1958, he again proceeded to work on the taxonomy and cytology of Rhizoctonia causing diseases of forest trees with Dr. 0. Vaartaja at Canada Agricultural Research Laboratory, Saskaton. Dr. Saksena took over as Professor and Head, Department of Plant Pathology at the erstwhile Government Agricultural College, Kanpur (now C.S. Azad University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur).
Prof. Saksena created a strong school on the Rhizoctonia diseases of crops at Kanpur and because of his scintillating contributions he is internationally known. During his 30 years of stay at Kanpur, he has supervised research work of 20 Ph.D. and 58 M.Sc. (Ag.) students. Dr. Saksena has been a member of several committees/expert panels concerning planning appraisal and evaluation at national level.
After retirement from University service in 1983, Dr. Saksena served as Emeritus Scientist (ICAR) for two years. Prof. Saksena was a charter member of Indian Phytopathological Society and also served on various important positions such as Vice-President (1968), President (1970) and Editor-in-Chief (1980-83). The Society of Mycology and Plant Pathology honoured Dr. Saksena as an “Outstanding Teacher of Plant Pathology” on the occassion of its Silver Jubilee Celebrations in 1995. He was also honoured by IPS with the Prof A.P. Misra life time achievement award during the year 2002-03.
Dr. H.K. Saksena passed away for his heavenly abode on 27 December, 2007 at Dehradun.