PPCP GSA welcomes three new students with a barbecue!!!

On August 29th, 2015, the LSU PPCP GSA welcomed our new graduate students with barbecued chicken, pork and sausage on the beautiful LSU Lakes.  This fall, Filipe Godoy, Rachel Herschlag and Sergio Urioste joined the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology.   Felipe Godoy orginially hails from Brazil, where he received a B.S. in Agronomy at Universidade Federal de Uberlandia.  Felipe is working with nematodes for his master’s thesis with Dr. Charlie Overstreet.  Rachel Herschlag completed her B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2015 at Tulane University in New Orleans, but she is from the great state of Pennsylvania.  Rachel is starting on her master’s work and will continue into a Ph.D program with Dr. Rodrigo Valverde studying viruses.  Sergio Urioste, from Bolivia, was a student at Zamarano in Honduras where he earned a B.S. in Environmental and Civil Engineering.  Sergio is Dr. Vinson Doyle’s first graduate student at LSU and will be working with fungi for his master’s research.  Thanks to Brian Ward and Teddy Garcia for organizing the bbq and to the numerous cooks including: Brian Ward, Sebastian Albu and Eduardo Chagas.  Thanks to everyone else who brought snacky foods.  We had a great turnout and an even better time.  Welcome and let’s get busy!!!

Students on the Lakes of LSU. Front row: Jingyu Peng, Adam Bigott, Tiago Lelis, Ben McInnis, Yen Raruang, Eduardo Chagas and Sergio Urioste. Back row: Senaya Kularathna, Pramuditha Kularathna, President Manjula Kularathna, Felipe Godoy, Rachel Herschlag, Huijing Zhu, Rebecca Sweany and Alejandra Jimenez.

Students on the Lakes of LSU. Front row (left to right): Jingyu Peng, Adam Bigott, Favio Herrera, Tiago Lelis, Ben McInnis, Yen Raruang, Eduardo Chagas and Sergio Urioste. Back row: Senaya Kularathna, Pramuditha Kularathna, President Manjula Kularathna, Felipe Godoy, Rachel Herschlag, Huijing Zhu, Rebecca Sweany and Alejandra Jimenez.

Attending the grill, left to right: Teddy Garcia, Eduardo Chagas, Felipe Godoy and Sebastian Albu.

Attending the grill, left to right: Teddy Garcia, Eduardo Chagas, Felipe Godoy and Sebastian Albu.

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Into the forest with the GSA: students learn about important pests and pathogens in Louisiana forests

On April 17th, graduate students from the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology and School of Renewable Natural Resources visited the Kisatchie National Forest to learn about tree diseases and pests that plague Louisiana. As a member Training/ Journal Club committee, Mary Helen was instrumental in organizing the trip. Mary Anne Sayer, Research physiologist at the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station in Pineville organized an active itinerary for the students. We learned about the import pine pathogens including, fusiform rust, annosum root disease, pitch canker and brown spot needle blight and hardwood pathogens including oak wilt, laurel wilt and sudden oak death.  Also, red heart decay in old wood pine forests provides habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. We went to the Palustris Experimental Forest where we observed symptoms of several of these pathogens in a 27 year old loblolly pine forest and a young long leaf pine sapling forest.

Checking out the diseases in loblolly pine forest and longleaf pine sapling forest.

Checking out the diseases in loblolly pine forest and longleaf pine sapling forest.

Finally we went to the Kincaid Lake Recreation area where we learned about the responsibility of the forest service to scout out potentially deadly trees in public areas. We also discovered the location for our future camping trip. Several people talked or helped out with the student’s visit including: Forrest Oliveria and Wood Johnson from the USDA Forest State and Private Forestry Forest Health Protection, and Brian Strom, Rab Olatinwo, Dan Leduc, Susana Sung, Mary Anne Sayer from the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station. Thanks to Dale Starkey and Dave Haywood for coming out of retirement to teach us about tree diseases. Students in attendance included Sebastian Albu, Jean Elbers (Renewable Natural Resources), Mary Helen Ferguson, Ally Lunos, Maryam Shahrtash, Rebecca Sweany, Deborah Xavier-Mis (research associate) and Huijing Zhu. All of the students are grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the health of our forests and to tromp around in the woods. Thanks to all the forest service staff who made the trip a success!!

Fusiform rust canker on loblolly pine

Fusiform rust canker on loblolly pine

Dale Starky showing stump that is potential inoculum source for annosum root disease

Dale Starky showing stump that is potential inoculum source for annosum root disease

Brown spot needle blight on longleaf pine

Brown spot needle blight on longleaf pine

Dr. Jan Leach visits graduate students and gives seminar

The graduate students were pleased to host Jan Leach as our invited seminar speaker April 15th, 2015!  Many of our students got an informal introduction to Jan at dinner the previous night.  We are especially grateful to Dr. Leach for spending a long day with us on the 15th that started at 7:30 A.M. and ended at 9:30 P.M. Jan shared her personal and professional experiences with us and gave us important pointers on how to make ourselves marketable and find jobs and funding opportunities.  Her main advise is to be flexible and broad in our vision for our futures and research topics.  We all had several opportunities to meet with her in a large group and in personal small groups.  Jan gave a seminar entitled, “Understanding durable resistance in rice” where she discussed using QTLs to identify important genes and promoters for durable resistance to plant pathogens.group pic with Jan Leach 2015

Following our seminar, Jeff and Mary Hoy hosted a pot-luck dinner that was enjoyed by many students and faculty members.  Thanks for the help of all the students to make this a wonderful visit and to the Hoy’s for hosting our pot-luck.  Again, thanks to Jan Leach for coming to LSU and sharing your knowledge with us!

leach potluck combo 2015

Pot-luck dinner at Jeff and Mary Hoy’s house.

Taking a break with the Pelicans

On March 7th, several students traveled to New Orleans to watch the New Orleans Pelicans defeat the Memphis Grizzlies.b-ball game 2015-2It was an exciting basketball game with the Pelicans coming from behind winning the game in the second half with a final score of 95-89.  We also enjoyed some good New Orleans food and cocktails while in town.  Thanks to Sebastian Albu for arranging the trip and Yen Ruraung, Rebecca Sweany and Brian Ward for providing transportation.b-ball game 2015-1

Students present their research at Southern Division APS in Atlanta

At the annual Southern Division American Phytopathological Society meeting in Atlanta (Feb 1&2, 2015), several students from LSU gave oral presentations and posters about their research.  Eduardo Chagas gave an oral presentation discussing his observations of the association (or lack) of Cercospora soybean leaf blight symptoms with cercosporin.   Maryam Shahrtash presented her findings using seed treatments on peppers and tomatoes to control several Xanthomonads.  Rebecca Sweany discussed her findings of volatile interactions between separate cultures of Aspergillus flavus.  Brian Ward presented more of his work looking into minor elements contributing to soybean resistance to rust and Cercospora leaf blight .  Dongfang Hu presented a poster on her RNA-seq data looking into differential gene expression during infection with soybean rust.  Everyone did a great job presenting their research! Graduate students, Sebastian Albu, Mary Helen Ferguson, Teddy Garcia and Ally Lunos were also in attendance.   Our GSA advisor, Ray Schneider was awarded the Outstanding Plant Pathologist Award.  We ran into former students including the current president of Southern Division, Nicole Ward-Gauthier, recent graduates Rebecca Melanson and Jake Fountain and not so recent graduate Baozhu Guo.  All in all we had a nice meeting, learned more about plant pathology and met some new people.Southern Division APS 2015

LSU contingent at APS Southern Division.  Back row starting from the left: Jake Fountain, Ray Schneider, Sebastian Albu, Teddy Garcia, Brian Ward, Melanie Ivey, Rebecca Sweany, Dongfang Hu, Maryam Shahrtash, Clayton Hollier, Baozhu Guo.  Front row starting from the left: Nicole Ward-Gauthier, Mary Helen Ferguson, Lawrence Datnoff, Eduardo Chagas and Rebecca Melanson.

Students Decorate for Holiday Party and Celebrate with Graduates

On December 15th, all the students came together to celebrate with our new Graduates: Carolina Avellaneda, Eduardo Chagas, Rebecca Melanson, Siruendra Osti and Bishnu Shrestha.   gsa xmas picture  At the party we enjoyed pizza and sweet treats.  Everyone have the opportunity to express their creative sides by creating paper snow flakes, making paper chains and decorating ornaments.  The faculty were pleasantly surprised by all the festive decorations for our departmental party the following day.  Special thanks go to Rebecca Sweany and Brian Ward for organizing and Teddy Garcia and Eduardo Chagas for helping to setup the party.  Everyone enjoyed the festive event!!!

2014-2015 Ask an Expert Lunch Series: Parts 1 and 2 completed

In an effort to prepare our students to get jobs in all sectors (private, public, consulting and academic) of plant pathology and crop physiology, the Journal Club/ Training Committee invited different professionals to lunch with students. During the fall semester, we had lunch with people from industry and agricultural consulting.  Students asked our speakers what it takes to become professional in their sector (i.e. How to get a Job?).  Our first speaker was Harold Lambert of Lambert Agricultural Consulting, Inc. in Ventress, LA.  He helped us to understand the challenges with starting your own Ag consulting business and the importance of integrity for building a successful business.  For the second part of our series, we met with two professionals from industry, Kathie Kalmowitz and Fernando Correa.  Kathie Kalmowitz, a market developer for turf and ornamental products at BASF, advised us to be open to many different job opportunities, and take advantage of opportunities to meet people from industry at meetings and in the department.  Fernando Correa, a plant pathologist at RiceTec, also advised us to increase our visibility and encouraged us to visit companies and give seminars about our research.    We also had lunch with Kiersten Wise, an extension faculty member at Purdue University, who advised us to be active in APS and our department, and publish our research.  In the spring semester we will continue our Ask an Expert Lunch Series with scientists from the USDA and administrators at LSU.  Thanks to Ally Lunos and Rebecca Sweany for arranging the lunches and the Department of Plant Pathology for funding the lunches.