AgCenter plant pathologist receives national research award

Olivia McClure  |  2/5/2019 5:53:38 PM

(02/05/19) BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Chris Clark, a widely recognized expert on sweet potato diseases, has received the National Research Impact Award from the National Sweet Potato Collaborators Group.

Clark was presented the award at the group’s annual meeting Feb. 2 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Clark, who has been with the AgCenter since 1977, plays an important role in plant pathology and breeding programs. He has worked with other AgCenter scientists on developing disease-resistant sweet potato varieties — including the breakthrough Beauregard variety that was released in 1987 and was at one point grown on about 80 percent of U.S. sweet potato acreage.

He also oversees virus testing for the AgCenter Foundation Seed Program, ensuring sweet potato farmers have access to seed that are free of diseases.

Clark has written or contributed to more than 100 publications and trained many graduate students during his career.

Tara Smith, director of the AgCenter Central Region and coordinator of the Sweet Potato Research Station, nominated Clark for the award.

“Varieties developed through these efforts are grown across the United States and around the world,” Smith wrote in a nomination letter. “His work with the virus-tested foundation seed programs, virus detection and identification and the National Clean Plant Network for Sweet Potato are all major accomplishments that have contributed to the sustainability of the national sweet potato industry for over 40 years.”

Smith added that Clark’s knowledge and work ethic have earned him the respect of sweet potato industry professionals throughout the country and world.

“Chris has qualities that embody what we all should strive to realize in our careers — genuine, honest, humble, eager and willing to help, talented, diligent, dedicated and committed to working with others,” she wrote.

Chris Clark receives award.JPEG thumbnail

LSU AgCenter plant pathologist Chris Clark, center, displays the National Research Impact Award at the annual meeting of the National Sweet Potato Collaborators Group on Feb. 2. Clark is pictured with Mark Shankle, left, of Mississippi State University, and Michelle McHargue, right, of Lamb Weston, both members of the group’s awards committee. Photo provided by Tara Smith

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