College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology

August in the News

Congratulations to our recent graduates!

Congratulations to the following plant pathology graduate students who successfully completed the requirements so far this year (CY 2012) to receive a graduate degree (MS or PhD) in plant pathology from WSU (degree obtained and their major advisor in parentheses):

Mr. Segun Akinbade (MS with Dr. Ken Eastwell)
Dr. Christie Almeyda (PhD with Dr. Hanu Pappu)
Ms. Maryam Alomran (MS with Dr. Frank Dugan)
Dr. Renuka Attanayake (PhD with Dr. Weidong Chen)
Dr. Ebrahiem Babiker (PhD with Dr. Scot Hulbert)
Mr. Tyler Bourret (MS with Dr. Dean Glawe)
Dr. Peng Cheng (PhD with Dr. Xianming Chen)
Ms. Noma Chingandu (MS with Dr. Hanu Pappu)
Dr. Jeremiah Dung (PhD with Dr. Dennis Johnson)
Dr. Kamil Mohd Jaaffar (PhD with Dr. Linda Thomashow)
Mr. Shyam Lal Kandel (MS with Dr. Tim Paulitz)
Dr. Yu-Hsuan Lin (PhD with Dr. Hanu Pappu)
Dr. Dipak Sharma Poudyal (PhD with Dr. Xianming Chen)
Dr. Dan Villamor (PhD with Dr. Ken Eastwell)

This is a major milestone in one’s career and a moment of pride for you and your families. We are proud of you! The department wishes these newly minted graduates the very best in their careers and future endeavors. Read more.


Dr. Lori Carris Delivers Keynote Address at the 2012 WSU Convocation

(pictured left, Dr. Hanu Pappu; right, Dr. Lori Carris)

Dr. Lori Carris, Associate Professor in the department, delivered the keynote address at the WSU Convocation on August 17 in Beasley. Attended by the WSU President, Provost, Vice Presidents, Deans, Associate Deans, Directors, Chairs, faculty, staff, students and their families, Dr. Carris addressed more than 4,000 incoming freshmen during this event. For a transcript of her speech, click here.

Dr. Carris received many awards and accolades Most recently, Dr. Carris was the recipient of the 2012 Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Instruction. She was presented with the award by WSU Provost and Executive Vice President,  Dr. Warwick Bayly during the Annual Academic Showcase Banquet held on March 30, 2012.  In 2011, Dr. Carris received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Phytopathological Society and the William H. Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Mycological Society of America. At WSU, she received the 2007 Mentor of the Year award, the 2009 Woman of Distinction Award, the 2010 Association of Faculty Women Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award and the 2010 CAHNRS R. M. Wade Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award.


“Attack of the Clones”: Science News Focus on FUNGI!

A MUST READ! Science News Focus called “Attack of the Clones”, with the subtitle “Fungi have long been seen as the least interesting pathogens, but two catastrophes in the animal world have changed that view”.  The article talks about the importance of fungi as pathogens of animals AND plants.
Science 10 August 2012: Vol. 337 pp. 636-638. DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6095.636

REU students in Plant Pathology this summer

Ten undergraduate students from across the nation participated in a REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) in Plant Genomics and Biotechnology at Washington State University this past summer.  This is a three year REU program supported by the National Science Foundation and led by Dr. Amit Dhingra in the Department of Horticulture.  The goal of this REU program is to provide undergraduate students in plant biology and related fields an opportunity to participate in ongoing active research programs. Working closely with faculty and graduate students, the participants gained hands on experience in various plant biology disciplines that utilize genomics and biotechnology approaches.   The participants were undergraduate students from all levels of undergraduate education working toward degrees in genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, horticulture, crop sciences, food sciences, computer sciences, bioinformatics, math and other technical majors.  Women and members of demographic groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering were particularly encouraged to apply.  Two of these students, Jeronda Hunt and Naeh Klages-Mundt, were hosted in the laboratories of Drs. Brenda K. Schroeder and Scot Hulbert in the Department of Plant Pathology.  The end of the student’s research experience for the summer culminates with a poster presentation.  Dr. Schroeder ran two workshops with the students to discuss aspects of poster preparation and presentation.

Pictured left to right; back row: Brenda Schroeder, Lydia Paradiso, Jeronda Hunt, Piedad Alcala, Mario Barco, Kathie Lee Nicholson, Naeh Klages-Mundt, Julian Jones, front row: Sequoia Leuba, Jasmine Scott, Brittany LeGrant.

Plant Path Graduate Student and Professor Organize Summer Science Research Program for WA Science Teachers

Fifteen secondary (6-12) teachers from North Central Washington participated in a summer science research program in the laboratory of Dr. Ken Eastwell, Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and located at the Washington State University Irrigated Agriculture and Extension Research Center in Prosser, WA.  The program was funded through a U. S. Department of Education Math Science Project Grant awarded to the North Central Educational Service District (NCESD).  Jeff Bullock, PhD student in Plant Pathology working under Dr. Ken Eastwell’s supervision and the NCESD collaborated to bring the two week program together.  During the two week program teachers learned some fundamental aspects of plant pathology, centered primarily around viral and viroid diseases of hops.  They worked in teams in coordination with the Washington Hop Commission to collect hop tissue samples from 43 different hop yards located in three major hop growing regions in Washington State.  In addition to the plant pathology aspect of the program, the teachers learned a variety of molecular biology techniques used to detect and identify viral and viroid pathogens.  Techniques included RNA extraction from plant tissue, performing a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to amplify RNA, and analyzing the amplified PCR product by capillary electrophoresis.  Other techniques included agarose gel electrophoresis of proteins and Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the detection of plant viruses.

“Participants gained hands-on experience in applying molecular techniques in solving real world problems and will introduce these concepts and techniques into their classrooms” said Eastwell.

“I gained a deeper understanding of specific aspects of plant pathology through the process of preparing for this program and the teachers were able to actively participate in a science study that demonstrated the application of science to a plant pathology problem” said Bullock.   Several of the teachers commented during the program that they had no idea what a plant pathologist was or did prior to this summer program; nor did they appreciate the extent that science was used in the agriculture industry.

“The two-week project provided a very meaningful, unique and in-depth learning opportunity for classroom teachers.  We know from the education research when teachers own content knowledge increases their students benefit.  We also know this kind of hands on professional development and learning opportunities create the very best learning environments possible” said Cindy Duncan, Assistant Superintendent, NCESD.

Seeds of prosperity: Spinach research could double Skagit County, U.S. production

Research by Dr. Lindsey du Toit, associate professor in the department and located at the Northwest Research and Extension Center, Mount Vernon, and her PhD student, Ms. Emily Gatch was featured in The Skagit Valley Herald. Their ongoing work on Fusarium wilt in spinach seed crops was featured in Herald’s Tuesday, 7 August edition. The article* and photos are at:

Dr. du Toit is nationally and internationally recognized for her expertise in seed health. Her research focus is on the epidemiology and management of diseases affecting vegetable seed crops (primarily small-seeded vegetables) in the Pacific Northwest. Besides her research and extension responsibilities, Dr. du Toit teaches a graduate course, PlP 525 Field Plant Pathology, a two-week course offered every other summer during even years.

Dr. du Toit leads the PNW-VEG (PNW-Vegetable Extension Group): her leadership and tireless and successful efforts in information dissemination and knowledge transfer earned the PNW-VEG the 2012 CAHNRS Team Interdisciplinary Award from CAHNRS Dean, Dr. Dan Bernardo.

Dr. du Toit was recipient of the NSF ADVANCE mini-grant (2011); WSU Kenneth J. Morrison Extension Award for outstanding contributions to the improvement of Washington State’s crop production (2009);  Alfred Christianson Family Endowed Professorship (2001-05, 2006-2010); Robert MacDonald Vegetable Seed Memorial Fund (2003-05, 2008-2011); and the APS Pacific Division Early Career Award (2006).

*Lost in translation: Couple of inaccuracies were inadvertently introduced during transcription of the interview to written article. The article says that Emily Gatch is an MS student from Iowa State University. Emily did receive an MS from Iowa State before starting her PhD in our department with Dr. du Toit. It also stated that 95% of the US supply of spinach seed is produced in the Skagit Valley: up to 25% of the US supply of spinach seed (not 95%) is produced in western Washington (Skagit, Whatcom, Snohomish, Lewis, and Clallam Counties) and western Oregon (Willamette Valley), not just in Skagit Co.

Faculty member Co-organized an International Symposium on plant virus diseases

A symposium “Research and Management of Insect-transmitted Virus Diseases in Vegetables in the Tropics and Subtropics” was organized by Naidu Rayapati (Washington State University), Ed Rajotte (Penn State University) and Muni Muniappan (Director of IPM CRSP, Virginia Tech) in collaboration with Drs. G. Karthikeyan and S. Mohankumar of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) during July 10-13, 2012 at TNAU, Coimbatore, India.  The main purpose of this symposium was to review the current status of insect-transmitted virus disease management in vegetables in the tropics and subtropics. The symposium was co-sponsored by the USAID funded Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program (IPM CRSP) and USDA. Plant virologists and entomologists from the U.S. (Scott Adkins, USDA-ARS-USHRL; Judy Brown, University of Arizona; Amer Fayed, Virginia Tech; Robert Gilbertson, University of California, Davis; Michael Goodin, University of Kentucky; Barry Jacobsen, Montana State University; Christina Rosa, Penn State University, and John Sherwood, The University of Georgia) presented invited lectures on different aspects of plant viruses and their management. In addition, scientists and IPM CRSP collaborators from India, Bangladesh, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda shared their research programs on management of virus diseases in different vegetable crops. Representatives from USAID mission/New Delhi and USDA-APHIS/New Delhi have participated in the symposium. Discussions were held on the current status of research, education, and extension relevant to the management of emerging and re-emerging virus diseases, especially those of vegetable crops in IPM CRSP host countries. Participants visited vegetable fields and markets to gain first-hand impressions about agriculture and crop production by farmers in India.

WSU Plant Path Department well-represented at this year’s APS annual meeting!

A strong contingent of faculty, staff and students attended this year’s APS annual meeting in Providence, RI.  The alumni social was well-attended where current and past members of the department had a chance to catch up.

Dr. Tim Murray delivers invited talks in China and Japan

Dr. Tim Murray, professor in the department, gave the keynote talk entitled “Global Change in Winter Climate and Agricultural Sustainability” at the Plant and Microbe Adaption to Cold meeting in Sapporo, Japan in June. He presented another talk at the same meeting on his research entitled “Marker-assisted selection for resistance to speckled snow mold of wheat.”  This working group has met every 3 years since 1997 at various places in the northern hemisphere where winter climate is a limiting factor for agriculture. Dr. Murray will be hosting  the next meeting in 2015. In Japan, Dr. Murray was hosted by a former visiting scientist to his lab, Dr. Zenta Nishio.

Enroute to Japan, Dr. Murray spent 6 days in China hosted by former postdoctoral scientist Hongjie Li, now with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. During the trip he visited Dr. Li’s lab, visited Taiyuan (Shanxi Province) where he met with breeders from the Shanxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences and gave two seminars on his ongoing research.

Graduate Student from Australia visited the Department

Dalphy O.C. Harteveld, Ph.D. candidate, Tree Pathology Centre DAFF & Shool of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia visited Dr. Tobin Peever, associate professor in the department July 21 to August 2, 2012.  Dalphy presented a seminar to the department entitled “Alternaria leaf blotch and fruit spot of apple in Australia” and discussed her research with Dennis Johnson, Wonyong Kim and several other members of the department in Pullman. Dalphy travelled to the irrigated potato fields in central WA to view early blight infections with Tom Cummings and Lydia Tymon. She also visited the fruit tree orchards of Wenatchee with Mark Mazzola, Parama Sikdar and Christian Aguilar and went water skiing on the beautiful Lake Chelan.

Plant Path Graduate Student Receives Master Gardener Scholarship

Congratulations to Anna Leon, PhD student in the department working with Dr. Gary Chastagner, Professor of Plant Pathology and located at the Puyallup REC.
Anna was selected to receive the 2012 Pierce County Master Gardener Scholarship.

Anna’s dissertation research is on direct soil quantification using real-time PCR and population dynamics of Fusarium oxysporum and F. commune from Douglas-fir nursery soils.

Dr. Lori Carris elected Executive Vice President of the Mycological Society of America

Congratulations to Dr. Lori Carris, Associate Professor in the department, for her election as Executive Vice President of the Mycological Society of America (MSA). Her 3-year term started at the end of the annual MSA meeting held early this month in New Haven, CT.

The Mycological Society of America is a scientific society dedicated to advancing the science of mycology – the study of fungi of all kinds including mushrooms, molds, truffles, yeasts, lichens, plant pathogens, and medically important fungi. MSA publishes a scholarly journal, Mycologia, one of the top mycological serials worldwide. MSA members meet annually to exchange information about all aspects of fungi.
Dr. Carris served on the MSA Advisory Board (2004-2009) and was past chair of the Board. She is serving as an associate editor of Mycologia.

Dr. Carris’ research includes the biology and systematics of plant pathogenic fungi, with emphasis on smut fungi (Tilletia and allied genera). Research on Tilletia species focuses on species complexes infecting cultivated (Triticum, Lolium, Poa, Festuca, etc.) and wild grass hosts (Apera, Bromus, Poa, Vulpia, etc.) using morphological, cytological and molecular methods. Current research focuses on smut fungi associated with grass seed crops, both as pathogens and as contaminants.

In 2011, Dr. Carris received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Phytopathological Society and the William H. Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Mycological Society of America. At WSU, she received the 2007 Mentor of the Year award, the 2009 Woman of Distinction Award, the 2010 Association of Faculty Women Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award and the 2010 CAHNRS R. M. Wade Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award.

Dr. Lori Carris to deliver keynote address at 2012 WSU Convocation

Dr. Lori Carris, Associate Professor in the department, was invited to deliver the keynote address at the WSU Convocation to be held on August 17 in Beasley. The event starts at 10 am and is open to all.  Attended by WSU President, Provost, Vice Presidents, Deans, Directors, Chairs, faculty, staff and students, Dr. Carris will be addressing more than 3,000 incoming freshmen during this event.

Most recently, Dr. Carris was the recipient of the 2012 Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Instruction. She was presented with the award by WSU Provost and Executive Vice President,  Dr. Warwick Bayly during the Annual Academic Showcase Banquet held on March 30, 2012.

The Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Instruction is presented to a member of the faculty in recognition of truly outstanding accomplishments in the establishment of excellence in the instructional programs of  WSU.  Activities encompassed by this award may be either outstanding singular accomplishments or a record of excellence over a period of years including: Exceptionally effective instruction; Organizing or conducting new courses or programs of study; Revitalizing existing courses or programs of study; and Establishing a national reputation as a leader in instruction.

Dr. Carris is admired for her excellence in teaching at WSU and beyond. In addition to her WSU courses, she instructs many community groups, both in classroom settings and in the field.  She teaches graduate-level mycology courses and has also taught a 100-level mycology class for non-science majors. It has become one of the most popular courses in the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS).

In 2011, Dr. Carris received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Phytopathological Society and the William H. Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Mycological Society of America. At WSU, she received the 2007 Mentor of the Year award, the 2009 Woman of Distinction Award, the 2010 Association of Faculty Women Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award and the 2010 CAHNRS R. M. Wade Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award.


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