Craig Nathan Austin
Craig Nathan Austin completed the requirements for a Ph.D. degree in the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University in August 2010. He conducted his Ph.D. research in Wayne Wilcox's program, with a focus on the effects of sunlight and its components on the development of grapevine powdery mildew. Working under controlled conditions and in the vineyard, Craig showed that ambient levels of ultraviolet radiation inhibit conidium germination and establishment and development of mildew colonies; that longer-wavelength radiation can heat exposed tissues to a degree inhibitory to disease development; and that these effects are synergistic. He then demonstrated that specific vineyard practices designed to increase sunlight interception by leaves and fruit can substantially reduce disease severity. Craig's work was recognized with achievement awards at annual meetings of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture and the American Wine Society, and he was invited to help teach a course for producers at the University of California, Davis. Craig is currently a research scientist at the headquarters of E. I. DuPont near Wilmington, DE.
Alan Hale Chambers
Alan Hale Chambers completed the requirements for a M.S. degree in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology in 2010. His research was supervised by Samuel Cartinhour and focused on RetS, a two component system that is required for motility and induction of the type three secretion system in Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Alan also served as the Plant Pathology representative to the Cornell Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. Before coming to Cornell, he earned his B.S. in Genetics and Biotechnology at Brigham Young University in Utah, and as an undergraduate was involved in several projects related to crop biology and breeding. Alan is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Florida with Kevin Folta and Vance Whitaker conducting research to improve flavor in cultivated strawberries.
Holly Lange completed the requirements for an MS degree in May 2010. She was part of the Cornell employee degree program, and continues to work as a technician with Chris Smart. For her MS degree, she worked on black rot of cabbage. Her thesis title was Epidemiology and Management of Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris in New York State.
Michael Wunsch completed the requirements for a Ph.D. degree in the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University in May 2010. He conducted his Ph.D. research in Gary Bergstrom's program on two soilborne diseases of forage legumes. Michael characterized the fungal pathogen responsible for the decline of the once prosperous birdsfoot trefoil seed industry in the Lake Champlain Valley of New York and Vermont. He demonstrated that the pathogen is a single monophyletic strain of fungus across its known geographic range, with a unique host range, thus supporting the naming of this pathogen as a novel form species, Fusarium oxypsorum f. sp. loti. Michael also conducted extensive studies of the biology and epidemiology of brown root rot of alfalfa caused by the fungus Phoma sclerotioides. On the basis of strongly supported genetic and morphological differences among isolates in a large North American collection, he established seven infraspecific varieties within P. sclerotioides. This knowledge is indispensible to breeders who will select alfalfa genotypes with broad resistance to brown root rot. Michael was the recipient of research grants from the New York State IPM Program, the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and the Northeast Regional IPM Grants Program. Michael was recipient of the Keikhefer Adirondack Fellowship, the Barbara McClintock Award for Excellence in Plant Sciences and the Malcolm Shurtleff Travel Award from APS. Michael is currently a Plant Pathologist at North Dakota State University's Carrington Research Extension Center where he conducts research and extension on diseases affecting several field crops grown in North Dakota.
Laura Wakefield completed the requirements for a Ph.D. in the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology in 2010. She studied under the direction of Robert Seem, Lance Cadle-Davidson and David Gadoury and conducted research on the asexual development of the grape powdery mildew fungus, Erysiphe necator. Laura identified factors controlling onset and cessation of conidiation in powdery mildew, the identification of molecular signals underlying these processes and developed an understanding their consequences in the field. After graduating from Cornell Dr. Wakefield pursued additional education at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Pittsburgh.