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© 2012 Plant Management Network. Published 23 July 2012.


The 11th I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium: Today’s Students Making a Difference in Plant Disease Epidemiology and Disease Management


F. W. Nutter, Jr., Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, 351 Bessey Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011


Corresponding author: F. W. Nutter, Jr. fwn@iastate.edu


Nutter, F. W., Jr.. 2012. The 11th I. E. Melhus graduate student symposium: Today’s students making a difference in plant disease epidemiology and disease management. Online. Plant Health Progress doi:10.1094/PHP-2012-0723-01-PS.


The 11th I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium was held 9 August 2011 during the joint meeting of the American Phytopathological Society (APS) and the International Plant Protection Conference (IPPC) in Honolulu, HI. The I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium has been held annually since 1999 and remains one of the most prestigious APS Annual Meeting events. This symposium features graduate students who are chosen on a competitive basis to present their thesis research results. The 11th I. E. Melhus Symposium was organized and co-sponsored by the APS Epidemiology Committee. Selection criteria for the 11th I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium included: (i) submission of a 5-page synopsis of the student’s graduate research project (excluding tables and figures); (ii) an expert panel evaluation of the originality and significance of each applicant’s research contribution toward improving our understanding of plant disease epidemiology and disease management; (iii) an evaluation of each applicant’s written communication skills; (iv) two letters of nomination from each applicant’s institution, (v) active membership in APS; and (vi) the requirement that the participant’s graduate degree was completed no longer than 12 months before the 2011 APS Annual Meeting. The co-sponsors and organizers of the 11th I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium wish to extend a special thanks to the four APS members who served as judges to select the 2011 symposium participants. The judges were Kira Bowen, David Gent, Peter Ojiambo, and Stephen Wegulo.


The I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium Fund

The Irving E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium Fund was created in 1999 by the APS Foundation with the goal of enhancing graduate student professionalism, as well as to memorialize an esteemed plant pathologist and educator. The I. E. Melhus Symposium Fund was established in Melhus’ honor through generous donations provided by Mr. and Mrs. William Paddock, Mr. And Mrs. Walter Goeppinger, and Dr. and Mrs. Jack Wallin. The 11th I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium was sponsored by the APS Epidemiology Committee and the APS Foundation. Each of the four 2011 Melhus awardees received a $1,000 travel award from funds provided by the APS Foundation and private industry sponsors, including Agdia, Inc.; BASF Corporation; E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.


History of the I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium

Every three years from 1984 to present, the APS Epidemiology Committee has sponsored and organized a Graduate Student Symposium to highlight the innovative epidemiological research that is being conducted by graduate student members of APS. In 1999, the APS Foundation approached the APS Epidemiology Committee with a proposal for the Epidemiology Committee to organize the first I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium. The APS Foundation introduced plans to make the I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium an annual event by using the traditional framework developed by the Epidemiology Committee to competitively select student speakers each year. The APS Foundation provides partial travel awards for the four to six graduate student participants who are chosen each year. It was agreed that the APS Epidemiology Committee would continue the tradition of co-sponsoring the I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium on a three-year cycle, with other APS Subject Matter Committees submitting proposals to co-sponsor the event in the two intervening years.

It is appropriate that the APS Epidemiology Committee was asked to co-sponsor and organize the first I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium, as Professor Irving E. Melhus was an early pioneer in the field of plant disease epidemiology and had a major influence on graduate student research and education. Over a period of 30-plus years as a faculty member at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University), Melhus mentored many outstanding graduate students, including L. W. Durrell, who received the first Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Iowa State College in 1923.


Irving E. Melhus: Historical Perspectives and Accomplishments

 

Dr. Irving E. Melhus was born on 2 April 1881 at Creston, IL, and grew up in Ellsworth, IA. Dr. Melhus earned a B.Sc. degree in 1906 from Iowa State College and was the first graduate to receive a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin (1912). Dr. Melhus accepted a appointment in the Office of Vegetable Crop Diseases in the USDA Bureau of Plant Industries to work on potato diseases. In 1916, Dr. Melhus accepted a faculty position in plant pathology at Iowa State College, thereby becoming the first plant pathologist in the Agricultural Experiment Station and Botany Department of Iowa State College. Dr. Melhus was named Head of the Department of Botany, and under his leadership, the department grew and gained national prominence within the Land Grant System. In 1946, Dr. Melhus organized the Iowa State College-Guatemala Tropical Research Center to provide more favorable opportunities for research on corn improvement, which led to substantial increases in corn production in the United States, Guatemala, and Southeast Asia.


I. E. Melhus and his Service to APS

Dr. Melhus joined APS in 1911 and was active in its affairs his entire career, serving as Vice-President in 1911, Councilor-at-Large in 1922 and 1923, and President in 1926. He was elected a Fellow of APS in 1969, the first year that this prestigious recognition was established by the society.


Participants in the 11th I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium (2011)

The APS Epidemiology Committee, in conjunction with the APS Foundation and private industry co-sponsors, congratulate the following four graduate students, who were chosen to participate in the 11th I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium.

 

Daniel J. Anco completed his Ph.D. in December 2011 under the direction of Lawrence V. Madden and Mike Ellis. Daniel received his B.Sc. from Lewis University in Illinois and his M.Sc. degree from The Ohio State University (OSU) in 2010. His Melhus symposium presentation title was “Effects of Temperature and Leaf Wetness Duration on the Sporulation Rate of Phomopsis viticola on Infected Grape Canes.” Daniel developed nonlinear regression analyses to choose an appropriate model to describe the effects of leaf wetness, temperature, and seasonality on the sporulation process of Phomopsis viticola. Daniel has been an active member of the APS Epidemiology Committee since 2009. He received the C. C. Allison Award in 2011 for outstanding performance in graduate research and service to the Department of Plant Pathology at OSU. Anco also received the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Director’s Associateship Award in 2007. Daniel Anco is currently working with Tim Gottwald as a post-doctoral research associate at the USDA-ARS Horticultural Research Laboratory, Fort Pierce, FL.

 

Sydney Everhart is currently working toward her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Georgia (UGA), under the direction of Harald Scherm. Sydney’s Melhus symposium presentation was titled “Spatial Distribution of Brown Rot Symptom Types and Fine-Scale Genetic Structure of Populations of Monilinia fructicola Within and Among Stone Fruit Tree Canopies.” Her research seeks to characterize the three-dimensional spatial patterns of brown rot, in intensively mapped canopies of stone fruit trees, as well as to determine the fine-scale genetic structure within tree fruit canopies. Sydney received the 2011 R. J. Tarleton Student Fellowship Award and the UGA Dissertation Completion Award, the latter of which provides a 9-month research assistantship. Sydney has been an active member of the APS Mycology Committee. Upon graduation, she plans to pursue post-doctoral training, with the ultimate goal to obtain a research/teaching faculty position in the field of molecular epidemiology.

 

Andrew V. Gougherty received his M.Sc. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Iowa State University in May 2011. His Melhus symposium presentation was titled “Epidemiological Analysis of the U.S. and Canadian Plum pox virus Eradication Programs,” and his research was completed under the direction of Forrest W. Nutter, Jr. Andrew’s research project analyzed the temporal and spatial dynamics of Plum pox virus (PPV) following the inception of PPV eradication programs in the U.S. and Canada. Gougherty received his B.Sc. degree in Environmental Science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in December 2007. Andrew received an Iowa State University Graduate College Research Excellence Award in 2011. He will be beginning a Ph.D. program this fall, working with Lori Eckhardt in the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, working on the modeling of two root pathogens of pine. Andrew has been an active APS member, serving on the Epidemiology and Crop Loss and Risk Evaluation committees.

 

Alissa Kriss completed her B.Sc. with a dual major in Mathematics and Secondary Mathematics Education from Indiana State University, and her Ph.D. from The Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University in December, 2011. Alissa’s Melhus symposium research presentation was titled “Climate, Weather, and the Heterogeneity of Fusarium Blight,” with Lawrence V. Madden and Pierce Paul serving as her co-advisors for this project. Her Ph.D. project included multiple statistical approaches to quantify or account for the variation of Fusarium head blight disease intensity on wheat at multiple temporal and spatial scales. Alissa has been awarded: the William E. Krauss Director’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Research from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; the Blair F. Janson and Wilmer G. Stover Scholarship from the Department of Plant Pathology at Ohio State University; the Janell Stevens Johnk Student Travel Award from the American Phytopathological Society Foundation; and the Patricia Ngwira Travel Award, awarded from the Plant Pathology Graduate Student Association for service to the association. While a graduate student, Alissa has been an active member of APS, serving on the three APS committees (Office of Public Relations and Outreach, Epidemiology, and the Crop Loss and Risk Evaluation Committees). Dr. Kriss is currently working with Tim Gottwald as a post-doctoral researcher at the USDA-ARS Horticultural Research Laboratory, Fort Pierce, FL.


Honorable Mention

Three graduate students received Honorable Mention Citations. They were Vanessa McMillan, Rothamstead Research, West Common Harpenden, Hertfordshire, UK, for her research on “Identification and Characterization of Resistance to the Take-All Fungus in Wheat.” McMillan’s graduate research was supervised by Richard Gutteridge and Kim Hammons (University of Exeter) and Jenna Stonard (Home Grown Cereals Authority). Erika Saalau Rojas (Iowa State University) received an Honorable Mention for her research on “Bacterial Wilt of Cucurbits: Assessment of Epiphytic Survival and Genetic Diversity of Its Causal Agent, Erwinia tracheiphila, and Evaluation of Row Covers in Disease Management.” Rojas’ research was conducted under the direction of Mark Gleason. Sarah Thomas (University of Georgia) received Honorable Mention recognition for her research on “Advances in Managing Blueberry Flower Infection by Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi.” Thomas’ graduate research was conducted under the direction of Harald Scherm.


The 11th I. E. Melhus Symposium: Acknowledgments

We wish to thank Raymond Martyn and the APS Foundation, as well as Agdia, Inc.; BASF Corporation; E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. for providing financial support to provide travel awards to the 11th I. E. Melhus Symposium participants. The APS Foundation would like to increase travel award amounts arising from the I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Symposium Fund and is encouraging APS members to make donations to this trust fund.