College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology


Adegbola webRaphael Adegbola


Raphael Olayemi Adegbola graduated with a B. Agric. honours degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 2009. In 2010, he joined the National Youth Service Corps where he taught biology, agriculture and computer at Benue State, Nigeria. Raphael returned to the University of Ibadan, and received an M.Sc in Crop Protection in 2012. During his M.Sc, he studied the occurrence of major viruses affecting Musa spp. in Nigeria, and made the first report of the occurrence of Banana Bunchy Top Virus disease in Nigeria. He had a stint as graduate research fellow, and later, research consultant at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria. There he studied the detection and distribution of Banana Bunchy Top Virus in Nigeria. Raphael is advised by Dr. Naidu Rayapati. His research will focus on Thrips and Tospoviruses.


Jati Adiputra


Jati Adiputra earned a BS in Biology in 2001 from the National University, Jakarta, Indonesia. While working as a Plant Quarantine Inspector at the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Quarantine (IAAQ), Ministry of Agriculture, Indonesia, he completed MS in 2009 in the Departement of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Bogor Agricultural University Jl. Kamper, Darmaga Campus, Bogor, Indonesia. During his MS, he worked on Turnip mosaic virus in Brassica sp. His research at WSU would be on epidemiology and diagnosis of grapevine viruses.
Major Professor: Dr. Naidu Rayapati

Chita Agarwal

Major Professor:  Dr. George Vandemark

Christian Aguilar

Bull’s-eye rot is a post-harvest disease of apple and pear fruit caused by a complex of four fungal species belonging to the Neofabraea genus. All four fungi are present in the Pacific Northwest with Neofabraea malicorticis typically restricted to the west side of the Cascade Mountains, N. perennans common to central and eastern Washington and N. alba more prevalent in pear orchards in Oregon. Recently, a newly described fungus, Cryptosporiopsis kienholzii, with a teleomorph referable to Neofabraea sp., was also found to cause bull’s-eye rot of apple fruit. N. malicorticis, N. perennans and N. alba are all known to cause canker diseases in apple and pear trees; however little is known regarding the biology and epidemiology of C. kienholzii. The objectives of my research are to understand the population biology of C. kienholzii in the PNW and to determine various environmental and host factors influencing canker and bull’s-eye rot development caused by this pathogen with comparison to other Neofabraea species commonly appearing in apple orchards in the region. The goal of my research is to better understand the disease epidemiology of this pathogen with the hope of developing more effective control measures.
Major Professor: Dr. Chang-lin Xiao/Mark Mazzola

Iqbal Singh Aujla


Iqbal Singh Aujla joined Dr. Timothy Paulitz’s lab as a Ph.D student in the fall semester, 2012. He will be working on “Modeling the distribution of soilborne pathogens and stripe rust in dryland wheat cropping systems of the Pacific Northwest under climate change scenarios”. He did his BS in 1998 and MS specializing in Plant Pathology in 2000 from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana (India). He joined PAU services as District Extension Specialist (DES) in Plant Pathology in 2001. During his stint of 7 years in extension, besides raising income of many vegetable growers several folds by practising proper disease management practices, three farmers were also awarded with best farmer award by PAU working under his guidance. He also gave recommendation on fungicidal management of false smut of rice. Then in 2007, he was appointed to the post of Assistant Plant Pathologist in research. His research work focused on vegetables grown under protected environment. He has given recommendation on management of soil-borne pathogens (fungi and nematodes) through soil solarization and has also developed a complete package on cultivation of peppers in net houses and naturally ventilated poly houses, increasing yield of peppers by 100-350 percent.

bai-smQing Bai


Major Professor: Dr. Xianming Chen

Receiving BS and MS degree in Huazhong Agriculture University, China;

Finishing some research related to the pathogen characterization(phomopsis.sp) of pear shoot canker;

I will join WSU in Spring Semester, 2017. In WSU, I will follow Dr. Xianming Chen, doing some research about “Evolutionary Mechanisms of the Stripe Rust Pathogen”, including genome structures and sequence fragments that are informative for studying evolutionary relationships of the pathogen isolates and populations.

Batson smAlex Batson


I graduated with a major in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Western Washington University. My research during undergrad focused on the ArabadopsisAspergillus pathosystem. Specifically, I investigated several flavonoid biosynthesis genes in Arabadopsis that influenced resistance to Aspergillus. After graduation, I worked at Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies in Seattle, WA where I studied fungal endophytes that confer multiple stress tolerances to crop plants. I am grateful to have had hands on experience researching fungal pathogens and mutualists.

As a student at WSU, I will study effector genes in Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. spinaciae in Dr. Lindsey du Toit’s laboratory at the NWREC in Mount Vernon, WA. I begin as a student Fall term of 2017, however, I will start working as a temporary employee in mid-March.

Carmody sm

Shannon Carmody


Major Professor:  Dr. Lindsey du Toit



Shimul Das

Major Professor:  Dr. Naidu Rayapati

deshields 2Joey DeShields

(Visit his Profile Link for more information)

Joey DeShields graduated from Oregon State University in 2015 with a B.S. Biology with concentrations in Plant Pathology and Bioinformatics. As an undergraduate Joey worked in a plant disease clinic as a molecular diagnostician and in a research laboratory investigating gall-forming phyto-bacterial genes, namely in Rhodococcus fascians. He is interested in integrated pest management and molecular tools to improve and educate on disease control methods for regional farmers. Under Dr. Kiwamu Tanaka, Joey will be working on a diagnostic method and control strategy for potato powdery scab disease.

Jonathan Eagle

Major professor:  Dr. Deven See

Enicks sm 2David Enicks

Major professor:  Dr. Achour Amiri

I recently graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies concentrating in Environmental Agriscience and Biology in Spring 2017. I will be working with Dr. Achour Amiri to study post-harvest pathogens of apple and pear fruit starting Fall 2017. While in undergrad I presented international studies research and interned with the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I love the outdoors, gardening, books, and music.

ErmitaChristine “Jade” Ermita


Jade obtained her bachelor’s degree in agriculture with a major in plant pathology from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB). She pursued MS Genetics in UPLB while working fulltime as a researcher at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).  She worked mainly on SNP marker development and SNP marker validation for genes underlying biotic stress resistance. In addition, she was involved in developing SNP genotyping workflows and SNP sets customized for different breeding groups, and the testing of different next-generation sequencing protocols at IRRI. Her passion for plant pathology has driven her to study the genetics of rice resistance to bacterial blight disease for her MS thesis.  Her study on the “Genome-wide association of bacterial blight resistance in cultivars of rice (Oryza sativa L.) through SNP marker analysis and Genotyping-by-Sequencing” had brought her recognition as one of the Young Rice Scientist Awardee during the 4th International Rice Congress in 2014. She will be joining Dr. Scot Hulbert’s lab as a PhD student in Fall 2016. She will be studying soil microbial communities affecting disease suppressiveness and the genetic basis of wheat genotypes affecting soil microbial communities.

freed-2017-smGretchen Freed


Wetland ecosystems in the PNW are critically endangered and restoration efforts of intensively managed agricultural sites are ongoing. Camassia, a native geophyte, has been a dominant component of wetland plant communities for millennia. Restorationists, landscapers, and private landowners plant Camassia seeds and bulbs from nursery stock and salvage sites in new locations throughout western Oregon and Washington. Little is known of the fungal pathogens of Camassia. New knowledge of bulb and seed pathogens can be used to employ specific strategies to reduce their impact on wetland restoration project success and limit their spread unknowingly. Gretchen’s research focus is to perform a mycofloristic study of Camassia specimens gathered from spring-fed forest meadows, wetland prairies, an oak savanna, and a common garden located in Oregon and Washington. Pathogenicity assays are used to characterize the bulb pathogens among the fungal taxa collected traditionally. A culture-independent mycobiome survey using an Illumina amplicon sequencing platform complements the mycofloristic study to investigate the fungal communities of Camassia seed, various plant tissues, and the rhizosphere of the specimens collected. Dr. Frank Dugan is Gretchen’s major professor in the Plant Pathology Department. Gretchen earned her MS in Plant Pathology and BS in Applied Plant Science-Plant Improvement from the University of Minnesota.

gananLederson Ganan


Born and raised in a traditional town in the Colombian coffee region, Lederson Ganan began at a young age to understand the challenges of agricultural production in his country.  This motivation led him to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Agronomy and a Master’s Degree in Plant Pathology from University of Caldas in Colombia. Afterwards, he joined the Plant Pathology lab at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Cali (Colombia) as a research assistant, where he focused on the molecular identification of fungal plant pathogens in tropical fruits and developed integrated management strategies for banana and cassava diseases. In 2015, Lederson was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, and has joined Washington State University in fall 2016 to pursue a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology under the supervision of Drs. Achour Amiri and Tobin Peever. During his PhD studies, Lederson’s research will focus on epidemiology, population biology and management of apple powdery mildew, caused by Podosphaera leucotricha, a major disease affecting apple in WA.

Garfinkel webAndrea Garfinkel

Andrea Garfinkel joined Dr. Gary Chastagner’s lab as a Ph.D student in the fall of 2013. For her doctoral work, she will be working on the management of diseases of cut flowers. Andrea earned her MS degree in Agronomy in the summer of 2013 from the University of Wyoming where she worked on greenhouse and high tunnel production of sunflowers. While at the University of Wyoming, Andrea also worked as a plant pathology research assistant assessing the efficacy of chemical fungicides and screening for resistance. Andrea also has a BA in International Studies from the University of Wyoming.

Shashika webShashika Hewavitharana


Shashika Shivanthi Hewavitharana is a continuing Ph.D student in Dr. Mark Mazzola’s lab at the USDA/ ARS Tree Fruit Research Laboratory, Wenatchee in the fall of 2013. She received her BS in Plant Biotechnology from University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her undergraduate research involved fungal enzymes specifically on inulinase in fructose production. Following the BS, Shashika was employed as a teaching assistant at the same university. Shashika conducted her MSc thesis studies with Dr. Mazzola on ‘carbon source-dependent efficacy of anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) in controlling apple replant disease (ARD)’. Findings from her research suggested that ASD has a potential as an alternative disease management practice in controlling ARD but that efficacy depends on the carbon source utilized. In her PhD studies she will be continuing studyies on ASD in controlling soilborne diseases of strawberry and examining the biologically and chemically mediated disease suppressive mechanisms of ASD.

Emmi Klarer


Major Professor:  Dr. Mark Mazzola

KozharOlga Kozhar


I have a Master’s degree on the specialty of biotechnology where genetics, molecular biology and plant physiology were the main subjects.  During my studentship I took an active part in research work and participated a lot of scientific conferences.  I used to achieve the best results in my studying process, for example, I was nominated to take part in the international workshop program in Denmark (Copenhagen). It was a really great result as I was the only one from the University who managed to get this opportunity.  I have experience in genetics, molecular biology and biotechnology (PCR-related techniques, SDS-PAGE and Acid-PAGE electrophoresis, DNA isolation & purification, DNA Spectrophotometry etc.) which I have learned while studying in the university and had practice in research laboratories on the university base and also in Department of allelopathy in M.M. Gryshko National Botanical Garden (here I work under rape soil resistance by genetics methods, as a result we got first positive results of rape’s tolerance to soiled area with genetic transformation by electroporation method).
Major Professor:  Dr. Tobin Peever

li.yuxiang amYuxiang Li


Yuxiang Li joined Dr. Xianming Chen’s lab and pursued his Ph.D. in the fall 2014. His research will focus on “Genetic and Functional Characterization of Avirulence/Virulence Genes in the Stripe Rust Pathogen”. Yuxiang received his BA in Plant Protection from Northwest A&F University in China in 2014. He participated in the “Knockout of Secretory Protein Related Gene Which Unknown in Fusarium” and “Cloning and Functional Verification of Pathogenic Genes in Verticillium dahliae” programs in his BA degree, which laid the foundation for his Ph.D. study.
Major Professor:  Dr. Xianming Chen

Lu Liu2Lu Liu


Lu Liu will join Dr. Xianming Chen‘s lab as a Ph.D student in the fall 2013. She will be working on “Molecular mapping of wheat genes for stripe rust resistance and mechanisms of wheat-stripe rust pathogen interactions”. She received her BA in Plant Protection from the Northwest A&F University in China in 2013. In 2010, in the National Undergraduate Innovational Experimentation Program, she studied the histopathology and oxidative burst characterization of wheat with high-temperature adult-plant strip rust resistance gene Yr36, which strengthened her interest in Plant Pathology. She also identified the resistance of Psathyrostachys huashanica Keng translocation lines to BYDV-GAV.

Mitra smArunabha Mitra

Major Professor:  Dr. Naidu Rayapati

Arunabha Mitra did his B. Sc. in Microbiology honours from St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata, India under University of Calcutta. He subsequently did his M. Sc. in Molecular Microbiology from University of Hyderabad, Telangana, India. The work he undertook in his M. Sc. project was responsible for arousing his interest in Plant virology. In that project, he worked on the molecular characterization of the p28 protein of Melon necrotic spot virus (MNSV-Hyd). He was attracted to plant virology, since viruses are one of the most intriguing microorganisms causing serious problems to humans, animals, and agriculture.  When he is am able to get some time off from the lab, he loves to indulge the bibliophile in him. He absolutely loves reading. Apart from reading, he also likes to listen to music and play badminton.  He will be starting his course at WSU from Spring 2016.

Olaya AriasCristian Olaya Arias


I was born in Manizales, Colombia where I received my B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering from University of Caldas. I conducted research on the cytogenetics of an Andean Passion flower to determine the possibility of cross-compatibility with related species. Then I moved to the city of Cali, Colombia to work in the virology research unit at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). There I worked on diagnosis and characterization of viruses affecting different crops (bean, Capsicum, cassava, rice, tomato, and tropical fruits).  I have a M.Sc. in Agricultural Sciences with emphasis on Crop Protection from the National University of Colombia campus Palmira. My thesis research consisted of biological and genomic characterization of a reovirus that infects cassava.  I started my PhD under the supervision of Professor Hanu R. Pappu in Fall 2014, and I will be working on tospovirus-thrips-plant interactions at the biological, genetic and molecular levels

Mohammad Rahman

Major Professor:  Dr. Naidu Rayapati

Sajal Sthapit

Major Professor:  Dr. Deven See

tabassum smAfsha Tabassum


Afsha Tabassum is a native of Hyderabad, India. She obtained her Bachelors of Science in Agriculture in 2012 and a Master’s in Agriculture with Plant Pathology as her specialization in 2014 from Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad, India. For her master’s thesis, she worked on the ‘Identification of resistant sources to Groundnut bud necrosis disease in groundnut genotypes’ at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid tropics, Hyderabad. She is a recipient of Indian Council of Agricultural Research – International fellowship to pursue her PhD at WSU. She joined the department in Fall 2015 and is pursuing her PhD in Professor Hanu Pappu’s lab. For her dissertation, she is working on tospovirus-host interactions.

likunLikun Wang


Likun Wang joined Dr. Mark Mazzola’ s lab in fall 2013 as a Ph.D student. She will be working on “Integration of root stock genotype and Brassicaceae seed meal amendment for enhanced orchard system resilience.” Likun received her BS degree in Biology Science from Hebei University, China, in June 2010. She found her interest in microbiology since then. And in June 2013, she received her MS degree in Forestry Pathology from Beijing Forestry University, China. During her MS degree, Likun worked on orchids’ mycorrhizal fungi. She investigated the orchids’ habitats in the field of several provinces of China and finally focused on the genetic transformation of mycorrhizal fungi. As the associate chairman of Graduate Student Union, Likun got the honor of “Outstanding Student of Leader of Beijing Forestry University”.

Xuefei Wang webXuefei Wang


Xuefei Wang joined Dr. Dean Glawe’s lab in fall 2013 as a Ph.D student. Xuefei will be working on research naturally-occurring fungi which will be isolated from grape and wine samples obtained from regional commercial vineyards and wineries and identified. Xuefei received her BS and MS degree in Huazhong Agricultural University. During her MS degree, Xuefei worked on an research project between Huazhong Agricultural University and Washington State University on biocontrol of soil-borne pahtogens of wheat.

David Wheeler


David Wheeler received his B.S in Horticulture from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. During his time as an undergraduate David participated in various internships and served as a teaching assistant for Applied Plant Pathology, Soil Science and Beekeeping courses. At Washington State University David is studying the epidemiology of Verticillium dahliae on potato and mint in Dr. Dennis Johnson’s lab.
Major Professor: Dr. Dennis Johnson

Chongjing (Robert) Xia


Chongjing obtained his BS in Plant Protection from Northwest A&F University, China. Before joining Dr. Xianming Chen’s lab, he was involved in projects studying genetics of stripe rust resistance in wheat cultivars, disease survey and sample collection. He is now conducting research on development molecular markers associated to avirulencevirulence genes in the stripe rust pathogen, using markers to tag specific groups of stripe rust races, and understanding mechanisms of host-rust interactions.
Major Professor: Dr. Xianming Chen

Other Students Advised by Plant Pathology Faculty


Molecular Plant Science

Vishnutej Ellur


Major Professor:  Dr. Weidong Chen

MarcecMolecular Plant Science

Matt Marcec

(Visit his Profile Link for more information)

Matt Marcec is a PhD student in Molecular Plant Sciences and also on the NIH Biotechnology Training Program, under the guidance of Dr. Kiwamu Tanaka in the Plant Pathology department. Matt has earned an M.S. in biology from Northern Illinois University where he studied proteins of unknown function using the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. Matt also taught two lab courses at NIU, the fundamentals of cell biology and the biology of land plants. Matt enjoys teaching and loves to study plants and plans to work in academia or industry hopefully studying how plants respond to their environment and how they can continue to feed and aid humanity. Matt also has a technical certificate in emergency medicine received from Florida College of Jacksonville where he volunteered as an EMT for three years.
Major Professor:  Dr. Kiwamu Tanaka

Moyo smMolecular Plant Science

Lindani Moyo


Lindani is a PhD student in Molecular Plant Sciences. He comes from Bulawayo, in the southern part of Zimbabwe. He is a Research Fellow from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and obtained a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Applied Biology and Biochemistry in 2010 and a Master’s in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology in 2013 from NUST. His Master’s dissertation research was on bacteriocin antimicrobial activity and 16S rRNA characterization of lactic acid bacteria. He is a recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship to pursue his PhD at WSU. He joined Professor Hanu Pappu’s lab in Fall 2015 and his current research involves developing genomic resources for potato for virus resistance.

Molecular Plant ScienceNicholas "Cole" Mueth

Nicholas “Cole” Mueth


Nicholas “Cole” Mueth is a PhD student in Molecular Plant Sciences, under the guidance of Dr. Scot Hulbert in the Plant Pathology department. He studies the pathogenicity of wheat rust fungi. Cole earned a BA in Biology from Truman State University in 2008, with a post-baccalaureate certificate in Environmental Studies. As an undergrad, Cole performed research on aquatic invertebrate ecology, and also studied abroad at the University of Münster in Germany, focusing on heat stress tolerance in the seagrass Zostera marina. Prior to his arrival at WSU, Cole worked at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Monsanto, both in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Cole hopes to contribute to the sustainable intensification of agriculture in his career. He is a 2012 recipient of the ARCS Foundation fellowship.
Major Professor: Dr. Scot Hulbert

Department of Plant Pathology, PO Box 646430, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6430, 509-335-9541, Contact Us
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