Congratulations to NC State University’s Jean Beagle Ristaino and Frank Louws, who were among 11 scientists honored during a virtual awards ceremony on Aug. 4 as 2020 Fellows of the American Phytopathological Society.
The society is an international scientific organization with nearly 5,000 members devoted to the study of plant diseases; it promotes the advancement of modern concepts in the science of plant pathology and in plant health management. It is the oldest and largest organization of its type in the world.
Designation as an APS fellow signifies recognition of distinguished contributions to the society or to plant pathology through original research, teaching, administration, professional and public service or extension and outreach.
Louws, head of the Department of Horticultural Science, has been instrumental in individual and collective efforts to find innovative ways to manage pathogens and weeds in strawberry and vegetable systems in the southeastern United States and to educate growers, agents and others on adapting these new methods. He has explored plant defense activators as tools in managing bacterial spot and speck of tomato, led multidisciplinary teams focused on managing soilborne pathogens during the phase out of methyl bromide as a soil fumigant, and spearheaded a large project to generate broader implementation of vegetable grafting.
Louws has also served as director of the Center for Integrated Pest Management, held numerous leadership positions in the APS and was a founding executive member of the National Integrated Pest Management Coordinating Committee.
According to APS, Louws was recognized for “leading a vibrant solution-driven research and extension plant pathology program, commitment to teaching and mentoring of students and professionals, displaying local to international leadership in plant pathology and maintaining an active commitment to APS.”
Ristaino, a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, is an international leader in the area of emerging plant diseases and global food security.
She served as a Jefferson Science fellow in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Food Security and as a Fulbright research scholar in Italy. At NC State, she directs a cluster that has hired four faculty members who are developing basic knowledge and tools that will help limit the damage posed by emerging plant diseases. She also is editing a book on emerging plant diseases and global food security and recently organized a keynote session at the International Congress of Plant Pathology on the subject.
Ristaino has spent more than 40 years contributing to the understanding of Phytophthora diseases of global importance. Her groundbreaking research, published in Nature, completely changed our understanding of the fundamentals of the Irish potato famine, one of most important epidemics in modern history.
Ristaino also was recognized as a true “ambassador for our science, changing not only the understanding and direction of our own research, but also influencing how the general public views science and scientists.”