Dill-Macky Steps Into Co-Chair Role with the USWBSI

March 1, 2018

Plant Pathology Professor Ruth Dill-Macky USWBSIIn January of this year, Ruth Dill-Macky stepped into a new leadership role as the researcher co-chair of the United States Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI). Dill-Macky takes over this role from David Van Sanford (University of Kentucky) who served as the researcher co-chair of the USWBSI for over a decade. Dill-Macky has been part of USWBSI since its inception, serving on the steering committee and on the executive committee since 2000. The USWBSI plays a key role in the coordination of research within the community of researchers working on Fusarium Head Blight (FHB or scab) of wheat and barley and in facilitating communications between the research community and the initiative's stakeholders, including wheat and barley producers, millers, maltsters, and brewers. Dill-Macky will work with the grower co-chair Doyle Lentz, a North Dakota wheat grower, and the other members of the initiative’s governance to set research priorities, negotiate the call for and review of research proposals and respond to demands on the initiative from various stakeholder groups. She will also represent the USWBSI to stakeholder groups, the general public and government agencies, including USDA-ARS program staff.

FHB has posed the most significant threat to cereal production in the United States. The USWBSI has provided leadership and structure to facilitate research aimed toward disease management. The USWBSI’s research efforts have addressed FHB through the development of germplasm with improved FHB resistance and best management practices. This includes the development and deployment of a disease forecasting system and fungicide testing, and through research to improve our understanding of the biology of the Fusarium species that incite FHB.

FHB is increasing in wheat in western states, where historically the disease has had limited impact, and in the expanding barley acreage in the eastern states, where barley production has increased to meet the needs of local craft breweries. These new challenges bring opportunities, new researchers and expand the mission of the initiative. Dill-Macky will contribute her skills to the initiative to help build on the considerable progress already made and guide the initiative forward with the aim of further mitigating the impact of FHB.