PLPA Awards Day 2018

May 1, 2018

Plant Pathology Awards Day 2018

On April 30th the department celebrated the amazing work of our faculty, staff, and students with our annual awards day. This year the department awarded a total of $15,910 and recognized 26 award recipients. The day not only included an awards ceremony but also featured two undergraduate research presentations and around 10 research posters were presented. Here is a list of this year's winners:

Faculty and Staff Awards

Distinguished Mentor
Deb Samac

Deb has mentored her current graduate student, Andrew Sathoff, for almost four years and has been an outstanding mentor for that entire span. This year, Deb has been particularly supportive of graduate student professional development. She allowed for a flexible research schedule to accommodate the of accrual of teaching experiences outside of the University of Minnesota. Deb is also invested in the advancement of graduate student writing skills. Throughout the year, she has been busy editing numerous drafts of manuscripts, fellowship applications, and abstracts. In her comments, she highlights the unique aspects of the research, which gives her graduate students renewed confidence in their research ability.

Professional and Academic (P&A) Award of Excellence
Plant Pathology Lindsey Otto-HansonLindsey Otto-Hanson

Lindsey has been a major contributor to projects in Dr. Linda Kinkel’s lab for almost 10 years. She is a strong leader, a superb mentor, and excellent intellectual contributor to the research program. In the past year, Lindsey coordinated submissions of 10 major research grants. She trained and supervised five new recent college graduates in completing a major endophytic data collection effort. She maintains large, multi-investigator datasets, has acquired new technical skills, analyzed and summarized complex data, and contributed to papers, posters and research grants. Lindsey is a regular participant in UM Potato Grower Field Days and Area II Potato Grower meetings and has developed a presence within these groups. Her willingness to go the extra mile for the program makes her an outstanding recipient of this award.

Civil Service Award of Excellence
Plant Pathology Lab Manager Matthew MartinMatthew Martin

Is a member of Dr. Brian Steffenson’s lab where he holds a position as a lab manager as well as a graduate student pursuing an M.S. in Plant Pathology. In the nomination it was noted that “he has taken the extra effort to gain greater knowledge and research experience by completing an M.S. degree, has been absolutely instrumental in the success of our many research projects as well as those of our collaborators, and has been an essential element in assisting others in the department and university, particularly in the BSL-3 facility. His research contributions have been included in a number of recent lab publications. Matthew will complete his M.S. thesis on the “Development of introgression lines carrying the leaf rust resistance genes Rph1-15 in Bowman barley” by the end of May. 

Plant Pathology Administrator Kristen OpitzKristen Opitz

She excels in the performance of all aspects of her position as departmental administrator. Her organizational efforts ensure that the department can count on the office to function smoothly and with the greatest efficiency. Her knowledge and understanding of University financial, organizational, and personnel rules are valuable assets and unique resources for the faculty, staff, and students. Kristen is always positive in her work. She is always willing to go out of her way or take time with advice, assistance, or effort that makes work in the department easier easier. She is particularly capable when dealing with complex and challenging personnel, financial, or human relations questions. Most importantly, she always accomplishes or fulfills these tasks with remarkable professionalism, patience, and tact.

Alumni and Friends Awards

Friends of the Department
Lieberman and Okinow Families

Steven and Sheila Lieberman and Harold and Sandra Okinow are being recognized as Friends of the Department for 2018. These two families have contributed immensely to the department through the establishment of an endowment to fund research to fight hunger worldwide. The Lieberman and Okinow families have had a relationship with the department for over 40 years and were instrumental in linking departmental faculty with Tel Aviv University’s Institute for Cereal Crops Improvement and their wealth of valuable cereal crop wild relatives. This germplasm is now being utilized to develop wheat and barley crops with broad-spectrum resistance to the rust diseases. We gratefully recognize the support of the Lieberman and Okinow families to the Department of Plant Pathology.

Distinguished Alumnus
Tarkus Suganda

Dr. Tarkus Suganda completed an M.S. degree in 1991 with Dr. Roy Wilcoxson where his thesis focused on resistance to barley net blotch and a Ph.D. in 1995 with Dr. Neil Anderson where his thesis focused on Quantification of vascular colonization as means to evaluate resistance of potato to Verticillium albo-atrum and V. dahliae. He then returned to his home country of Indonesia and joined the faculty of agriculture in the Universitas Padjadjaran in West Java. He was a teacher and researcher in plant pathology for nine years and then was promoted to Vice Rector for Planning and Information. Since 2012 he has returned to research and is currently Head of the Laboratory of Phytopathology. He has continued strong connections with alumni of the department and is active in the Indonesian Phytopathological Society and American Phytopathological Society. For his many contributions to plant pathology research, teaching and administration, we are recognizing Dr. Suganda as the Distinguished Alumnus. 

Graduate Student Awards

Ward C. Stienstra and Richard A. Meronuck Graduate Student Travel Awards
Lauren Jackson, Kristi Ledman, Eric Otto, Eric Nazareno

M.F. Kernkamp Fellowship
Andrew Sathoff

Fred I. Frosheiser Scholarship
Deepak Haarith

Dr. John Dueck Memorial Scholarship
Feng Li

Vaala-Henry Endowment in support of the Norman E. Borlaug Fellowship for International Agriculture
Eric Nazareno

Undergraduate Research Presentations

"Xanthomonas translucens pathovars in economically important small grains and intermediate wheatgrass"
Yasmeen Saad, Dill-Macky Lab

"Rice-inoculum decomposition affects variety responses in soybean resistance trials"
Andres F. Trujillo, Kurle Lab

Common Good Awards

Kristen Cooper, Cory Hirsch, Linda Kinkel, Dean Malvick, Nevin Young, Rebecca Curland, Liam Genter, Ben Held, Anita Jurevica, Jenny Juzwik, Kristi Ledman, Lori Loberg, Kristen Opitz