I joined the Entomology and Plant Pathology Department in August 2012, as the field crops pathologist located at the West Tennessee Research and Education Center in Jackson, TN. Prior to coming to Tennessee I was born and raised in Florida, where a plant pathologist will never be bored. I received my B.S. and M.S. from Florida State University where I developed an interest in plant sciences and became the herbarium manager and project leader for the campus tree inventory. After receiving my M.S. I started working as a Biological Scientist at the North Florida Research and Education Center for the University of Florida, where I came to know and love plant pathology. My dissertation, Biology of Phakopsora pachyrhizi, the causal agent of soybean rust in Florida, introduced me to the wonders of epidemiology and how amazing it is that different factors such as hosts, vectors, and meteorological events, such as hurricanes, can influence disease development and establishment.
At the University of Tennessee, I have a 70% Extension and 30% research appointment. As an Extension Plant Pathologist, I discover and address the major disease challenges of Tennessee producers. This information is gathered from agricultural county agents, crop consultants, industry and Extension cooperators, producers, and field observations. Solutions to these challenges are sought from the literature and internet searches or through applied research designed to find effective, economically viable and environmentally sound solutions to these disease management issues. This information is distributed to the growers through county agricultural agents, the UTcrops.com website and news.utcrops.com blog, IPM Newsletters, stakeholders and agent in-service meetings and/or Web-based Extension publications.
My Extension/research appointment works well in addressing producers problems. I educate producers, county agents, crop consultants, and other agriculture clientele on fungicide resistance management strategies which include using multiple modes of action, cultural practices, and good stewardship of fungicide application as well as other non-chemical management strategies like resistant varieties and crop rotation. To have a successful disease management program, I promote teamwork and cooperation, not only within my program of research specialists and students, but also across disciplines and institutions. Cooperating with and leveraging the skills of many exceptional county agricultural agents, extension specialists, and researchers are valuable in solving today’s complex problems and providing the best information to producers.