Quesada-Ocampo Picked for ‘40 Under 40’ Honor

Portrait of Lina Quesada-Ocampo holding basket of sweetpotatoes in greenhouse

Lina Quesada-Ocampo, NC State associate professor and vegetable pathology extension specialist, was named to this year’s list of the Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 honorees.

Quesada-Ocampo, faculty member in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, specializes in diseases of sweetpotato and cucurbit crops such as cucumber, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin and squash.

She was recognized for building a research and extension program that meets growers’ needs.

Quesada-Ocampo is one of two U.S. researchers focusing on sweetpotato diseases and the only one with an extension appointment. Her lab studies diseases of North Carolina’s top five vegetable crops, working closely with growers and the North Carolina Plant Disease and Insect Clinic to improve disease management.

A panel of industry experts selects honorees for the Vegetable Growers News and Fruit Growers News award, established in 2018 to recognize outstanding leaders and thinkers who support the industry.

Quesada-Ocampo joined NC State in 2013. She was named a University Faculty Scholar in 2019 and Forbes magazine highlighted her research last year.

Originally from Colombia, Quesada-Ocampo came to the U.S. to complete a Ph.D. in plant pathology at Michigan State University and did postdoctoral research there in plant and plant pathogen genomics.

She says two experiences in Colombia piqued her interest in vegetable and specialty crops: working with cassava, a staple in developing countries, and studying late blight in potatoes.  

“I am very honored for this award,” Quesada-Ocampo says. “I love working closely with growers, packers and producers in North Carolina and beyond. 

“I became a scientist to help people, farmers in particular. This recognition of the disease management research and extension activities of my program and how they are helpful to my stakeholders is very appreciated.” 

Quesada will be recognized in the October 2021 issue of Vegetable Growers News and Fruit Growers News, as well as at an annual conference.

This post was originally published in College of Agriculture and Life Sciences News.