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Students

Raphael Adegbola
PhD; raphael.adegbola@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Naidu Rayapati

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.


Chiti AgarwalChiti Agarwal
PhD; chiti.agarwal@wsu.edu
Major Professor: Dr. George Vandemark


Scott Anderson
PhD; scott.d.anderson@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Cynthia Gleason


 

Qing BaiQing Bai
PhD; qing.bai@wsu.edu

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.


Alex Batson
MS; alex.batson@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Lindsey du Toit

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.


Shimul DasShimul Das
PhD; shimul.das@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Naidu Rayapati

Shimul Das, native to Bangladesh is a PhD student in Plant pathology. He attained his Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Agriculture from Khulna University and subsequently Master of Science in Entomology from Bangladesh Agricultural University. His master’s dissertation was “Host suitability of Epilachna beetle (Epilachna dodecatigma) on brinjal cultivars at variable temperature”. He has been employed as a faculty of Agrotechnology Discipline, Khulna University since 2011. He claimed the BHEARD Fellowship funded by USAID mission, Bangladesh to pursue his PhD at WSU. He is currently undertaking his Doctoral research works on vegetable viruses economically important to agriculture in Bangladesh under the supervision of Dr. Naidu Rayapati.


Jonathan Eagle
PhD; jonathan.eagle@wsu.edu
Major professor: Dr. Deven See


David EnicksDavid Enicks
MSdavid.enicks@wsu.edu
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.


Christine “Jade” Ermita
PhD; c.ermita@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Scott Hulbert

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.


Lederson Ganan
PhD; l.gananbetancur@wsu.edu
Major Professors:  Dr. Achour Amiri and Dr. Tobin Peever

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.


Samodya Jayasinghe
MS; samodya.jayasinghe@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Tim Murray


 

Ninh KhuuNinh Khuu
MS; ninh.khuu@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Scott Harper

I received my BS in Plant Science from UC Davis in 2015. During my undergraduate studies, I discovered a passion for botany and agriculture. My summers were spent performing botanical surveys for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife documenting rare flora that occur in the southern portion of the Snow Mountain National Monument. During academic sessions, I specialized in micro-shoot tip culture of clonally-propagated perennial crops in support of California’ grape, strawberry, fruit tree, and sweet potato industries as part of the National Clean Plant Network. I was retained as a technician until Summer 2018 when I took a brief venture with a commercial tree nursery’s R&D tissue culture lab. I will be pursuing an MS with Dr. Scott Harper at Prosser working on hop viroids – to develop improved viroid elimination protocols and to better understand the spatial distribution of the viroid within host tissue.


 

Emmi Klarer
MS: e.klarer@wsu.edu

Major Professor: Dr. Mark Mazzola


Olga Kozhar
PhD;  olga.kozhar@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Tobin Peever

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).


Yuxiang Li
PhD; yuxiang.li@wsu.edu
Major Professor: Dr. Xianming Chen

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.


Lu Liu
PhD; lu.liu3@wsu.edu

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.


Richard Manasseh
PhD; richard.manasseh@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Hanu Pappu


 

Elliott MarstonElliott Marston
PhDelliott.j.marston@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Deven See

I majored in Agricultural Biotechnology and graduated from WSU in 2017 with a B.S. in Integrated Plant Sciences. During my undergraduate my research focused on plant virology, specifically sequencing the genome of potato mop-top virus. After graduation I had the opportunity to work for Dr. Xianming Chen’s stripe rust research project where I assisted in field and greenhouse management.

As a PhD student at WSU, I am studying under Dr. Deven See at the USDA-ARS Western Regional Small Grain Genotyping Lab. My research will focus on late maturity alpha-amylase (LMA) in PNW wheat and attempting to identify QTL’s related to LMA resistance and develop markers for MAS. I will also be studying the use of genomics data for increasing the efficiency of traditional wheat breeding methods.


Kaitlin MIllerKatlin Miller
MS; kaitlin.miller@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Naidu Rayapati

As a recent WSU graduate with a passion for learning, I knew graduate school would be in my future. In May of 2017 I received my BS in Integrated Plant Sciences, and decided to take a crop specialist position. During this time, I found myself excited to diagnose problems plants were having and realized how exciting the field of plant pathology can be. I decided to go back to school just a few months after graduating. I have since joined Dr. Naidu Rayapati in his lab at the Prosser IAREC where I am focusing on how viruses, mechanical damage, and cankers can affect the leaf pigmentation profiles of various wine grape cultivars. Aside from working in the lab and the vineyards, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two pups camping, kayaking, and adventuring our new town!


 

Arunabha Mitra
PhD; arunabha.mitra@wsu.edu
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.


Cristian Olaya Arias
PhD; cristianolayarias@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Hanu Pappu

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.


Nickisha Pierre-Pierre Nickisha Pierre-Pierre
PhD; n.pierre-pierre@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Weidong Chen

Nickisha completed her B.S. degree as a double major in Molecular Biology/Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University of Central Florida (UCF). As an undergraduate, she worked in a Genetics lab on the Climate Change Effects on Sea Urchin Larvae. After receiving her B.S. degree she began working at MD Anderson on pancreatic cancer. Upon beginning her Masters degree at UCF, she continued working on cancer, but on the diagnosis of it. Nikisha’s thesis revolved around diagnosing prostate cancer using an assay titled NanoDLSay (nanoparticle-enabled dynamic light scattering assay). So far, this technique has been applied for quantitative detection and analysis of a wide range of chemical and biological targets. She received my Masters degree in Biomedical Science in 2015. She is currently doing research on Rhizobium and its symbiotic relationship with chickpeas for the USDA.


 

Mohammad RahmanMohammad Rahman
PhD; mohammad.rahman@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Naidu Rayapati

Rahman, born in Bangladesh and obtained his B.Sc. in Agriculture (Hon’s) from Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Bangladesh and pursued his M.S degree with a major in Plant Pathology from the same University. His M.S project was Inheritance studies of molecular markers and phylogenetic relationship of rice genotypes resistant to tungro virus. After his graduation, he has been employed in Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute as a Plant pathology scientist since 2012 and he has been worked on management of Tomato yellow leaf curl virus and Cucumber mosaic virus and their vector. Rahman, was awarded BHEARD fellowship and has joined at Washington State University to pursue his PhD in Plant Pathology in spring 2016 under supervision of Dr. Naidu Rayapati. He studied on viruses infecting legumes and vegetable crops which is economical important in Bangladesh.


Ryan SolemslieRyan Solemslie
MS: ryan.solemslie@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Lindsey du Toit

Ryan Solemslie grew up in Mount Vernon, Washington. Living in the Skagit Valley, he developed a love for agriculture starting with the work he did in his parents’ gardens and greenhouse throughout his childhood. In high school, Ryan spent time throughout the spring and summer working at a local nursery and garden center. During the summers of his college years at Washington State University, Ryan worked as a technician for Sakata Seed America, Inc., where he assisted with evaluating spinach trials, squash pollination, and packaging seed for various trials. In the spring of 2017, Ryan graduated from Washington State University with a B.S., majoring in Nursery and Greenhouse Management and minoring in Horticulture. Starting in the spring semester of 2018, Ryan enrolled as an MS student in the WSU Department of Plant Pathology. His M.S. thesis is on cold season emergence, vigor, and seedling blight in sweet corn production in the Columbia Basin of the Pacific Northwest.


 

Kayla SpawtonKayla Spawton
PhD; kayla.spawton@wsu.edu
Major Professors:  Dr. Lindsey du Toit and
Dr. Tobin Peever

Kayla graduated from the University of California, Davis in 2014 with a B.S. in Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity and a minor in Fungal Biology and Ecology. As an undergraduate, Kayla contributed to research on sudden oak death in California’s coastal forests, soft rot of table grapes, and pitch canker of Monterey pine in various faculty programs at UC-Davis. She also completed her honors thesis on the insect-gall diversity of sagebrush in the Eastern Sierras, which was published in a peer-reviewed academic journal (Environmental Entomology 44:1095-1100). After graduating, Kayla worked as a microbiologist at an agricultural biotechnology company, researching beneficial plant-associated bacteria and fungi. She then returned to UC-Davis to manage the California stream monitoring project for sudden oak death. Kayla joined Dr. Lindsey du Toit’s program at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC in fall 2018 as a plant pathology PhD student and ARCS Scholar, and is co-advised by Dr. Tobin Peever. Her project is on the ecology and management of Stemphylium leaf spot of spinach.


 

Sajal Sthapit
PhD; sajal.sthapit@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Deven See


Moying Wang
MS:  moying.wang@wsu.edu
Major Professor:  Dr. Weidong Chen


David Wheeler
PhD; david.wheeler@wsu.edu
Major Professor: Dr. Dennis Johnson

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.


Other Students Advised by Plant Pathology Faculty

Molecular Plant Science
Vishnutej Ellur
PhD;

Major Professor: Dr. Weidong Chen


Molecular Plant Science
Matt Marcec
PhD: matthew.marcec@wsu.edu
(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


Molecular Plant Science
Nicholas “Cole” Mueth

PhD; nicholas.mueth@email.wsu.edu

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


Molecular Plant Science
Joel Sowders

PhD; joel.sowders@wsu.edu
(Visit his Profile Link for more information)

Major Professor: Dr. Kiwamu Tanaka