The Department of Plant Pathology officially signed the Syngenta Crop Protection Plant Pathology Graduate Fellowship on Monday, April 21st. Along with CALS Administration, representatives from Syngenta, including David Laird (Head of Product Biology for North America) and Tyler Harp (Product Biology Lead, Fungicides), were in attendance. This fellowship provides complete support of a graduate student fellow for three years. The Plant Pathology Department has already selected a master’s student for the Syngenta Fellowship for Fall 2014. A thesis research project of mutual interest to NCSU and Syngenta has been designed to be implemented under the direction of a Plant Pathology faculty mentor.
Casey Ruark, a PhD student in the Department of Plant Pathology, was named as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow for 2014. The award includes three years of support for stipend as well as cost-of-education expenses. Casey’s proposed research topic is titled “Utilizing viruses within soybean cyst nematodes (Heterodera glycines) as a potential avenue for biocontrol”. In the United States as well as many other top soybean producing countries, soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is the most destructive pathogen to soybean crops. This damage is glaringly evident in North Carolina where an estimated sixty-percent of soybean acreage is infected with SCN resulting in annual yield losses of four to eight-percent. Casey’s research emphasis is in examining whether North Carolina field populations of SCN harbor viruses, and if these viruses result in a phenotypic change in the nematode that can be exploited as an environmentally safe biocontrol of SCN.