College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology

March in the News

Plant Pathology Faculty Recognized with Awards of Excellence.

Dr. Lori M. Carris, associate professor in the department, was the recipient of the 2012 Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Instruction. Dr. Carris was presented with the award by WSU Provost and Executive Vice President,  Dr. Warwick Bayly during the Annual Academic Showcase Banquet 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.

Dr. Gary G. Grove, professor and extension specialist in the department and located at the Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center, received the 2012 Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Outreach and Engagement. Dr. Grove was presented with the award by Dr. Warwick Bayly, Provost and Executive Vice President, during then Annual Academic Showcase Banquet on March 30, 2012.

The intent of the Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Outreach and Engagement is to recognize the outstanding performance by a WSU faculty member toward fulfilling the University’s public service mission, mainly by outreach and engagement into the state or nation.  The award serves to honor truly exceptional accomplishments through activities directed toward extending instruction, research, and supporting resources to a broader public.

Dr. Grove revived, expanded and enhanced WSU’s Ag Weather Network (AWN), transforming it into a vital component of agriculture-based enterprise throughout the state and region. AWN sites provide raw weather data and value-added weather products such as crop models and disease forecasts. In two years as director of the AWN, Grove established a network of 132 weather stations throughout Washington State that provides real-time weather and forecast data and various pest models and disease forecasts.  The website receives more than 400,000 visits per month and uses text messaging and synthetic voice technology to deliver to weather and pest alerts.  His extension and research efforts have develop unique insights in pathogen biology and disease epidemiology irrigated perennial agriculture and resulted in a 60% decrease in fungicide use in Washington vineyards and cherry orchards.  Dr. Grove was recipient of the 2010 American Phytopathological Society’s Excellence in Extension Award.


Plant Pathology Recognized for Most Posters at the 2012 Academic Showcase Poster Session!

CAHNRS Dean Dan Bernardo issued a challenge to all CAHNRS departments and offered a reward to the unit that had the most # of accepted posters at this year’s Academic Showcase. Plant Pathology, along with HLA, were declared winners!
Moreover, the most # of accepted posters submitted by individual faculty/program across all CAHNRS units: top two of the three were from Plant Pathology!

Congratulatory Note from CAHNRS Dean, Dan Bernardo:

“Thank you and congratulations on having a poster(s) included in this year’s Academic Showcase Poster Session.  This poster session is a great way to communicate to the rest of our university colleagues the fine and diverse work that is being done in CAHNRS and WSU Extension.  CAHNRS and WSU Extension were identified as the lead college on 98 of the 300 posters presented at this year’s Showcase.  This was a great showing, and it was noticed by many of the faculty and administrators who attended the event.  It was great to see many of you at the session.  I was particularly impressed with the diversity of our posters, ranging from “Advanced Proteome Analysis of Arogenate Dehydratase Knockout Mutants” to “Assessing the Clothing Needs of Adolescent Girls.” 

The department chairs were made aware a couple of months ago of a little contest to encourage participation.  The department with the most posters (scaled to account for faculty size) was to receive a prize at a future faculty meeting.  The contest ended in a dead heat, with both Horticulture and Landscape Architecture and Plant Pathology coming in at 1.00 posters per faculty FTE.  A special congratulations to each of those units.

Please forward this email to all of your graduate student, post-doc, and other poster authors, so that I might also extend a heartfelt congratulations to them, as well. 

Best regards,
Daniel J. Bernardo

Fukata visits WSU Mount Vernon

Masahiro Fukuta, carrot breeder for a Japanese seed company, Sumika Agrotech Co., Ltd., visited Dr. Lindsey du Toit’s vegetable seed pathology program at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC on 26 March 2012 to discuss carrot diseases and methods of screening for resistance to these diseases, particularly bacterial leaf blight. Masahiro’s visit to WSU was part of a 3 month stay in the USA, primarily at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Masahiro was working with Dr. Phil Simon, USDA ARS carrot breeder.

Peever Research in On Solid Ground

Dr. Tobin Peever, Associate Professor in our department, and his PhD. Student, Jane Stewart were featured in a recent issue of On Solid Ground. Dr. Peever’s research is focused on the evolution of plant-pathogenic fungi, with a goal to understand how evolution has shaped pathogen populations and to use this knowledge to design more stable and environmentally sound management strategies to control plant disease. Current research efforts are focused on the evolutionary genetics of host specificity, the role of host specificity in fungal speciation and speciation processes in asexual fungi. His group is studying the molecular systematics of Alternaria alternata and closely related small-spored Alternaria species on several host plants and are using Alternaria species as a model to determine the role of mating genes in asexual fungi. Dr. Peever collaborates extensively with WSU researchers as well with numerous others around the globe.

Dr. Jane Stewart, who obtained her PhD under the tutelage of Dr. Peever, worked on the evolutionary biology of the citrus pathogen, Alternaria brown spot (A. alternata) for her PhD dissertation. She examined the mating system of this pathogen and how it relates to the evolution and virulence of this pathogen.

Jane has received several awards including, an ARCS Scholarship (2006‐2009), American Phytopathological Society Student Travel Award (2009), Second International Ascochyta Workshop Travel Award (2009), first place at the Second International Ascochyta Workshop student poster competition, and first place at the Evolutionary Biologists of PNW Student (EVOWIBO) Poster Competition (2010). Jane is a member of the American Phytopathological Society, and the WSU Plant Pathology Graduate Students Club.

Jane grew up in Portland, Oregon. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Oregon in 1999. In 2003, she earned her Master’s degree in Forestry, with an emphasis on Forest Pathology at University of Vermont, School of Natural Resources (UVM SNR). Her thesis work focused on the movement of a tree pathogen by forest insects. Before starting her PhD at WSU, she worked as a technician for the University of Vermont Entomology Lab, focusing on IPM management for forest insect pests. She then traveled back to the PNW to work for the USDA Forest Service. Her work focused the genetics of nursery and forest tree

Plant Pathology Faculty Recognized with Team Interdisciplinary Award from the College

PNW VEG (Pacific Northwest Vegetable Extension Group) led by Drs. Lindsey du Toit and Debra Inglis in our department and Carol Miles in HLA, is selected to receive the 2012 CAHNRS Team Interdisciplinary Award. The Team will be recognized at the annual CAHNRS Awards Banquet to be held on April 14, 2012 in Ensminger Pavilion, WSU, Pullman (4 to 6:30 pm).

The PNW VEG was founded 11 years ago by Dr. Debra Inglis because of the monumental challenge of addressing the research and extension (R&E) needs for a diversity of diseases on more than 45 primary fresh market and processing vegetables as well as more than 20 vegetable seed crops grown in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). The team is now led by Drs. Lindsey du Toit, Debra Inglis, and Carol Miles (Depts. of Plant Pathology and Horticulture & Landscape Architecture). From the 10 charter members, the team now represents a tri-state R&E effort with 23 vegetable specialists from WSU, OSU and the UI with R&E appointments in entomology, horticulture, plant pathology and weed science. Members share information on emerging vegetable issues; develop science-based vegetable resources and recommendations; and, disseminate research-based information rapidly and effectively via a comprehensive website, conference calls and electronic communications, disease diagnoses and field visits, presentations and publications, and regular interactions with stakeholder groups and key industry representatives. Many PNW VEG members serve on vegetable stakeholder advisory boards.

Prior to 2000, a unified team did not exist to assess R&E needs for the complex PNW vegetable industry, and convey those needs to land grant institutions and stakeholders. Washington vegetables (including potatoes) represented a farmgate value of >$775 M in 2000. Dr. Inglis identified the need to coordinate the various R&E activities in vegetables. She put together the Vegetable Pathology Extension Team and served in its leadership role until 2004 when Dr. du Toit assumed leadership of the team (re-named the PNW VEG) with subsequent recruitment of diverse vegetable specialists in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

The team works with organic and conventional cropping systems, vegetable growers and industry representatives in the Tri-state region. Team members discuss trends in vegetable problems at monthly team conference calls during each growing season. These calls lead to effective sharing of information, improved diagnoses and, sometimes, specific outreach projects (e.g., PNW VEG Extension Bulletin No. 616 in 2009 on physiological leaf roll of tomato, after team members in all three states reported widespread occurrence of this problem). Collaborations on applied research projects have led to important outcomes (e.g., du Toit and Pelter issued the first report documenting the yield impact of Iris yellow spot virus on 55 onion cultivars grown in WSU’s onion cultivar trial in 2004; and these annual onion cultivar trials have led to other research projects and grant awards, e.g., addressing Iris yellow spot and onion storage rots).

The following are highlights of team outputs and impacts: 45 team conference calls over 11 growing seasons (minutes archived and circulated to members and university administrators; two comprehensive vegetable disease diagnosis workshops (Mount Vernon in 2003 and Pasco in 2008) which received excellent ratings from participants; team website regularly revised that features a calendar of vegetable educational events, a vegetable photo gallery, 18 electronic newsletters, and comprehensive listings of vegetable resources; four professional development opportunities (team trainings at Snoqualmie Pass and Pasco, and vegetable tours in the Skagit Valley and Columbia Basin); distribution of resources (books, CDs, digital cameras, etc.) to team members; and integration of university plant clinic diagnosticians into team activities. Congratulations!

Plant Pathology Staff Recognized with Award for Excellence from the College

Mr. Thomas Cummings, Senior Scientific Assistant in Dr. Dennis Johnson’s program in our department, is selected to receive the 2012 CAHNRS Administrative Professional Technical Staff Excellence Award. He will be recognized at the annual CAHNRS Awards Banquet to be held on April 14, 2012 in Ensminger Pavilion, WSU, Pullman (4 to 6:30 pm).

Excerpt from the nomination statement: “Mr. Cummings is an outstanding member of the plant pathology research team. He is self sufficient, adaptable and technically proficient both in field and laboratory research environments. Tom has an excellent work ethic and will go the extra mile with effort and time to meet research goals. Of particular importance is Tom’s intellectual curiosity and understanding of the broader implications of research. People enjoy working with Tom. He has a respectful and a team spirit manner when cooperating with others. His contributions in research with students, WSU departments and Extension, other universities, and industry personnel are well known, sought out and highly valued. Tom is a valued asset of the WSU community.”

Congratulations, Tom!

Faculty Featured in WSU Today

The American Phytopathological Society, the world’s largest professional society of plant pathologists, recently chose Washington State University plant pathologist Dr. Dean Glawe’s database as a standard reference for authors submitting papers on powdery mildews to the journal Plant Disease. An article featuring Dr. Glawe’s accomplishment was featured in the March 7 edition of WSU Today.

Plant Pathology Faculty Selected to Receive 2011 Best Viticulture Paper Award

Congratulations to Dr. Gary Grove, professor of plant pathology! He co-authored a paper that has been selected to receive the 2011 Best Viticulture Paper Award from the American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV).

The ASEV Best Paper Committee evaluated all research papers published in Volume 62 (2011) of the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture. The Committee has chosen one paper in the field of viticulture that is deemed outstanding in its content and a substantial contribution to the field. Dr. Grove’s paper, “Powdery Mildew Severity as a Function of Canopy Density: Associated Impacts on Sunlight Penetration and Spray Coverage” has been chosen as the bestviticulture paper for 2011.

The award consists of complimentary general registration for the National Conference in Portland, Oregon for June 20-21, 2012; An invitation to the Board of Director’s Reception and Dinner to be held on Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at the National Conference; an engraved plaque to be presented to him at the National Conference; and a cash award.

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