Understanding the epidemiology, etiology and control of fungal plant pathogens that cause soil-borne and foliar diseases of ornamentals, rice, turf and vegetables in the state of Florida. I have been investigating a novel nutritional approach to managing these plant diseases which involves the study of the role of silicon for suppressing plant diseases. My interests have included understanding the interactions of silicon with fungicides, residual effects of silicon on disease development, the influence of silicon in the enhancement of host plant resistance and the mechanism (s) of silicon-mediated resistance. The plant pathogens I am studying (or have studied) in this system include Magnaporthe grisea (rice and turf), Thanatephorus cucumeris (rice and turf), Cochliobolus miyabeanus (rice and turf). Recently, I started investigating its effectiveness against diseases of ornamentals (powdery mildew/roses and gerbera daisies), bedding plants (downy mildew/Salvia), and other vegetable/agronomic crops (powdery mildew/cucumbers and rust/soybeans). Research will continue to further define and characterize the role of Si in plant disease suppression and to determine what genes and gene products might be involved in this process.
In addition, I am investigating the molecular, morphological and pathogenic characterization of the species Corynespora cassiicola, the cause of target spot of tomato (in cooperation with Dr. Ken Pernezny, EREC); factors involved in pathogenesis and molecular characterization of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. radicis-lycoperisici (in cooperation with Dr. Pam Roberts, SWREC); the etiology and control of pepper anthracnose (in cooperation with Dr. Ken Pernezny, EREC), and the pathogenicity, morphological and molecular characterization of isolates of Rhizoctonia sp. from turf, and screening germplasm of St. Augustinegrass for resistance (in cooperation with Drs. Rick Raid and Russell Nagata, EREC and Phil Harmon, Department of Plant Pathology).
Teaching ExperienceSince Fall 2005, I have been teaching Fundamentals of Plant Pathology/General Plant Pathology, PLP 3002/5005. The objective of the lecture section of the course is to introduce the student to the many different types of plant pathogens, their basic biology, examples of the types of disease they cause, and the basic principles and concepts of their development, spread and management. The laboratory section emphasizes the principles and concepts of plant pathology through demonstrations and hands-on exercises using living organisms and prepared specimens. Graduate and DPM students are required to write a paper and prepare a 20 minute oral power point presentation on plant disease control, i. e. biological, cultural or chemical. I am also currently supervising the research of four Ph. Ds, and three master students as well as the chair of three DPM students.
Miscellaneous Professional ActivitiesInternational:Editor, J. Plant Nutrition, 2006 Proposal reviewer for the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada; 2004 Scientific reviewer for Pakistan Agricultural Research Council Agricultural Linkage Program, 2003 Conceived and organized the First International Conference on Silicon in Agriculture, 1999 Council for International Exchange of Scholars, Fulbright Senior Scholar Program, Review Committee for Southern Europe, member, 1997-1999 Office of International Programs, American Phytopathological Society (APS), Co-Chair, 1988-1992 Short Term Enrichment Program, Office of International Programs, APS, Chair, 1988-1990, member, 1987 Library and Laboratory Assistance Committee, Program and Policies Committee, Office of International Programs, APS, member, 1986-1989 Tropical Plant Pathology Committee, APS, member, 1986-1989 National (and State): Florida Golf Course Field Tour, Invite by Syngenta to investigate problems inherent to maintanence of high quality bermudagrass on golfcourses, 2004 and 2005 UF/IFAS Awards of Excellence for Graduate Students (Best Master Thesis), committee member, 2005 BASF Turfgrass Fungicide Focus Meeting, Jan. 2004 Chipco Turfgrass Disease Seminars (UCATS), 1999-2006; invited speaker and participant SERA/SRIEG-25 Turf, Session Leader for Disease Management of overseeded and ultradwarf bermudagrass greens, June, 2004 Scientific reviewer for Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research, C-FAR FY-04, External Grants Program, 2003 Scientific reviewer for CRIS Project, Clemson University Experiment Station, 2003 Secretary of the Florida Phytopathological Society, 2001 (Vice-President in 2005 and President in 2007 Turfgrass committee, APS, member, 1999-2002 Session organizer and presided over the 2001 symposium on the Biology of Magnaporthe grisea on Turfgrass, APS Annual Meeting Fungicides and Nematicides Tests, Vegetable Diseases, Section Co-Chair, 1998-2001 Mycorrhizae Committee, APS, Chair, 1995, Vice-Chair, 1994, member 1992-1995 Conceived, organized and presided over a colloquium on ‘Disease Suppression in Sustainable Agriculture in Relation to Mineral Nutrition’, APS, 1995; Environmental Quality and Plant Health Committee, APS, member, 1993-1996; Associate Editor of Plant Disease, 1992-1994; Presiding Officer, Poster Session, APS, 1989 Executive Committee of the Rice Technical Working Group (RTWG), member, 1994-1996 and 2000-2002; Plant protection panel of the RTWG, member, 1994-1996; Co-organized and co-presided mycology session of 4th biennial Florida Phytopathological Society, 1995 Co-organized and co-presided soilborne disease session of 7th biennial Florida Phytopathological Society, 2001 University Senate, 1996-1998, IFAS Tenure and promotion, 2002-2003.
Languages:Portuguese (fluent) and Spanish (communicate)
International Activities:I have had or continue to have cooperative research projects in the following countries: Brazil (Universidade de Uberlandia and EMPRABA) Canada (University of Laval) Colombia (CIAT) Japan (Institute for Bioresources, Okayama University) Spain (CONSEJO and Universidad de Cordoba) I also have presented over 30 invited lectures in the following countries:Brazil; China; Colombia; France; Honduras; Hungary; India; Japan; Norway; Philippines; Spain; United Kingdom; Venezuela
Professional Society MembershipsAmerican Phytopathological Society
International:UF/IFAS International Fellow Award, 2006 UF International Educator of the Year, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences, 2006 Invited Visiting Professor, Institute for Bioresources, Okayama University, Japan, 2006 Received a plaque of recognition for contributions to the study of Silicon in Agriculture, III Silicon in Agriculture Conference, Uberlandia, MG, Brazil, 2005 Fundacion BBV Chair, Universidad de Cordoba, Spain, 1997 Fulbright Senior Research Award, Spain, 1996 and 1997 National Council for International Scientific Exchange-International Agricultural Research Centers Pilot Linkage Program Research Fellowship, CIAT, Colombia, 1993
National:Received the University of Florida’s Research Foundation Professorship Award, 2006 Elected Secretary of the Florida Phytopathological Society, 2001 (Vice-President in 2005 and President in 2007) University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Interdisciplinary Team Research Award for the Silicon Project-Team Leader, 1999 Albright & Wilson Certificate of Recognition for Team Excellence and Outstanding Accomplishment for the Silicon Project, 1999 Who’s who in American Men and Women of Science, 1997 Selected Research Accomplishment Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, 1995 USDA Certificate of Merit, 1988 USDA Certificate of Appreciation,1988 SigmaXi, 1983 Gamma Sigma Delta, 1982. Grants:Around 2 million dollars from various agencies including: USAID, USDA (ARS, FAS, IR4, and OICD), Foundations, Commodity Groups and Agricultural Chemical Industries