Congratulations to Will Sharpee on winning best poster at the Gordon Conference on Cellular and Molecular Fungal Biology. The conference, held from June 15-20 in Holderness, NH, is one of the premier venues for presenting cutting edge research. Nice job, Will!
Graduate students in the Department of Plant Pathology have an active outreach group. In addition to participating in large outreach events like Bugfest and Triangle SciTech Expo at the Museum of Natural Sciences, they also visit local high schools to spread the word about how plant pathologists use biotechnology to manage plant pests. On April 4, 2014 they visited three of Mrs. Eckenrod’s sophomore biology classes at Princeton High School in Eastern North Carolina. Students performed DNA extractions from strawberry tissue, looked at fungal spores under a microscope, learned the basics of fungal isolation and culture maintenance, and learned how to transform geranium plants with agrobacterium. This outreach program aims to teach and inform the general public about plant pathology and current issues in world food production.
Not one, but two promising students have been awarded a 2014 Paul Ecke Jr. Scholarship. The merit-based scholarship honors the late floriculture pioneer and is awarded to M.S. or Ph.D. students who are on track to become exceptional researchers or educators.
Ecke recipient Emma Lookabaugh, a doctoral student at NCSU, has extensive experience in floriculture extension work and outreach activities, including more than five years experience at a diagnostic clinic. Her doctoral research focuses on Pythium and aims to combine sound floriculture research with disease management strategies.
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.