News Briefs 2008 - 2009

Bonos received the Early Career Plant Breeding Achievement Award from the U.S. Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee - posted September 3, 2009
Stacy Bonos (Plant Biology and Pathology) was selected as the first recipient of the Early Career Plant Breeding Achievement Award from the U.S. Plant Breeding Co ordinating Committee (PBCC) for her "remarkable record of achievement in germplasm releases, publications, teaching and mentoring students, awards and recognition, and attraction of grant funds." Bonos , who was nominated by Brad Hillman (director for Cooperative Research at NJAES and professor of Plant Biology and Pathology), was selected for this inaugural award at the annual PBCC meeting on August 4.

Center for Turgrass Science receives royalty monies for grass varieties - posted September 3, 2009
Rutgers turfgrass research program is highly regarded nationwide and around the world. In fact, Rutgers-bred turfgrass can be found everywhere from New York's Central Park to Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. And most of the best turf seed commercially available has Rutgers' stamp on it, thanks to the Center for Turfgrass Science, a unit of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. The center recently received a sizeable royalty from LebanonTurf, a division of Lebanon Seaboard Corp., with whom the center has partnered since the early 1990s. The check for $280,000 was presented to the center for its leadership in developing several of the company's top turfgrass varieties. Royalties from its partnership with LebanonTurf and other private sector firms go to support the center's grass seed breeding program. The center's reputation has also led to research and education partnerships with universities in countries as far flung as Norway and China. Expanding its global reach, the center in 2006 partnered with the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research to bring Norwegian graduate students in turfgrass science to Rutgers for research and study. In China, the center has developed extensive ties with several premiere universities, including Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Beijing Forestry University, and the Agricultural University of Hebei. Read more on the center's global turfgrass collaborations and its recent royalty news.

Lam gives invited talk in China - posted September 3, 2009
Eric Lam (Plant Biology & Pathology, director of the Biotech Center for Agriculture and the Environment) was invited by Applied Biosystems China (now part of Life Technologies) to deliver a lecture titled "Characterizing the epigenome in plants via ChIP-seq with NextGen sequencing" at the Beijing Institute of Gen omics, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, on June 12, and in the College of Life Sciences and Technology of Guangxi University, Nanning, China on June 16. Together with Assistant Research Professor Rong Di (Biotech Center) and Assistant Professor Todd Michael (Waksman Institute of Microbiology), Lam visited Guangxi Academy of Sciences in Nanning and Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences in the Yunnan province from June 14?20. During this time, Lam gave 2 lectures titled "Smart Plant s: creating more fermentable plants for biofuels through genetic engineering" in the two locations while Di gave 2 lectures titled "Detection of Shiga toxins and E. coli O157:H7 by surface plasmon resonance." This visit to Guangxi and Yunnan also served as a critical step in drafting Memoranda of Understanding and Cooperative Research Agreements between the Biotech Center and the research programs in the two Chinese institutions.

ISE program strengthen by visit from Dean Popoola, University of Ibadan, Nigeria - posted September 3, 2009
The Dean of the Postgraduate School at the University of Ibadan (UI), Nigeria, Labode Popoola, visited Rutgers University from August 4?5 to explore collaborative opportunities for faculty/student exchange and graduate programs in sustainable development. Albert Ayeni (Plant Biology and Pathology) arranged several meetings for the visiting Dean, including the Office of Technology Commercialization, the Graduate School, t he School of Environmental and Biological Sciences' Office of Communications, the EcoComplex in Bordentown, and Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center (RAREC) in Bridgeton. Assistant Director David Specca gave Popoola a guided tour of the EcoComplex, and RAREC Director Bradley Majek led a tour of the research and extension center. Popoola is a strong supporter of ongoing RU/UI collaboration through the USDA-funded International Science and Education (ISE) initiative at Rutgers, headed by Michael Lawton (Plant Biology and Pathology, Biotech Center). Popoola is seeking to expand the collaborative activities initiated this summer by our student interns currently studying agricultural systems in Nigeria.

Co-PIs visited Nigeria & Kenya - posted on September 3, 2009
Albert Ayeni visited Nigeria and Kenya from May 22?June 4 as Co-PI of the International Science and Education (ISE) initiative funded by USDA/CSREES, with matching funds from Rutgers and NJAES. Michael Lawton (Plant Biology & Pathology; Biotech Center for Agriculture and the Environment) and Jim Simon (Plant Biology & Pathology) are also Co-PIs on the project, which is designed to identify new crops (ethnic vegetables and biofuel crops) for New Jersey and the U.S., and to strengthen the international content of the school's agricultural curriculum. Collaborating institutions in Africa are the University of Ibadan (UI), Nigeria, and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute at Thika (KARI-T hika), Kenya. Ayeni met with the ISE coordinators and administrators at both institutions to discuss project implementation details as well as the hosting of Rutgers students who will be spending part of summers in 2009 and 2010 as interns at these institutions. Ayeni also observed some of the major cultivated and wild vegetables on local farms with local experts. Solanum spp. and Gynadropsis spp. were very common in both the Nigerian and Kenyan agricultural food systems, and local people highlighted the th erapeutic qualities of these species in addition to their nutritional values. Potential biofuel plants observed were elephant or (Napier) grass (Pennisetum purpureum) in Nigeria and Kenya, and Guinea grass (Panicum maximum) in Nigeria. Jatropha sp., a potential biodiesel plant, was being researched at UI, Nigeria.

16th annual "A Celebration of Excellence" Awards announced. - posted April 30, 2009
The 16th annual "A Celebration of Excellence" Awards were announced. Many departmental staff & faculty received the 2009 Excellence Award for a team. For "Rediscovering the Jersey Tomato?Revitalizing a Signature Crop for New Jersey," award recepients include our deparment's own. Dr. Tom Orton. For "Partnership for Sustainable Economic Growth in Africa through Natural Products Development" award recepients include our department's own Diane Ducceschi, Barbara Fitzgerald, H. Rodolfo Juliani, Adolfina Koroch, Chung Park, James Simon, Pierre Tannous, and Qing-Li Wu.

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Ida A. Leone. - posted April 30, 2009
Dr. Leone was employed by Rutgers University, Cook College, as a professor of Plant Pathology and Environmental Science from 1944 to 1988. Dr. Leone was a 1944 graduate of Douglass College in New Brunswick, receiving her B.S. degree in science. She received her master's and docto rate degrees at Rutgers University. Dr. Leone, and her associate, the late Dr. Eileen Brennan, were pioneers in the field of air pollution. She became a highly respected consultant to industry throughout the world. Dr. Leone was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She was also a member of the AMITA, and was honored in 1966, as "Woman of the Year." Dr. Leone was commissioner of air pollution for the City of Rahway, and an active member of St. John the Apostle R.C. Church, Clark, where she had se rved on the parish council and was a longtime member of its choir. Dr. Leone was listed in Who's Who in American Woman and Science.

GIBEX visited the Kingdom of Bhutan - posted February 5, 2009
A GIBEX-U.S. delegation led by Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment member Ilya Raskin visited the Kingdom of Bhutan in December. Accompanying Raskin were colleagues Mary Ann Lila (North Carolina State University) and Preston Scott (exe cutive director of the World Foundation for Environment and Development). The visit was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture of Bhutan and involved meetings with government officials as well as members of Bhutan's royal family. As a result of these meetings, a plan for the establishment of GIBEX-Bhutan was drafted. The plan involves a speedy signing of the memorandum of understanding followed by a GIBEX training course in Bhutan as early as spring of 2009. The plan envisions Bhutan's Institute of Tradition al Medicine Services and National Biodiversity Centre working together to establish GIBEX-Bhutan. GIBEX-Bhutan will concentrate on the bioexploration of Bhutanese flora for new sources of medicines, validation of existing traditional medicines, and the use of GIBEX technologies to advance scientific education within the country. GIBEX-Bhutan is poised to become a model for future international scientific programs and exchanges between Bhutan and US universities that can bring important sustainable economic and educational opportunities to the Bhutanese people. (

Department faculty receive awards from the New Jersey Turfgrass Association - posted February 5, 2009
Jim Murphy (specialist in turf management) was awarded the 2008 Hall of Fame Award for outstanding achievements, service, and contributions to the turfgrass industry, and Bingru Huang received the 2008 Recognition Award for her research and extension efforts by the New Jersey Turfgrass Association on December 10 at the 33rd Annual New Jersey Green Expo in Atlantic City.

Rutgers to begin development of plant biosecurity certificate program - posted October 28, 2008
group photo A memorandum of understanding between Rutgers University and USDA APHIS-PPQ concerning the development of a new plant biosecurity certificate progr am was signed by Executive Dean Robert M. Goodman and Victor Harabin (Eastern Regional Director of USDA APHIS-PPQ) on September 24. Present at the signing were Rong Di (Plant Biology and Pathology), Jim White (Plant Biology and Pathology), George Hamilton (Entomology), and Gordon Gordh (USDA APHIS National Science Advisor). Rong Di is developing a new course titled "Plant biosecurity issues and technologies" to be offered in spring 2009. This course will be part of the new certificate program.

Students in the Plant Biology graduate program receive awards at the Annual Meeting of the Crop Science Society of America - posted October 28, 2008
award winners Eight students in the Plant Biology graduate program received awards at the Annual Meeting of the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) held in Houston, TX, October 5-9. Jo Anne Crouch received the Gerald O. Mott Scho larship Award from the CSSA. This scholarship is provided each year to a student who has demonstrated outstanding potential for leadership. In the Soils and Water Session, John C. Inguagiato took 1st place for his oral presentation entitled, "Topdressing incorporation and sand shape effects on anthracnose severity of annual bluegrass." Patrick McCullough was awarded 1st place and Robert Shortell received 2ndplace honors from the Industry Committee for their talks on "Bispyribac-sodium Metabolism in Annual B luegrass, Creeping Bentgrass, and Perennial Ryegrass," and "The Influence of nitrogen fertility on the tolerance of Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) to bispyribac-sodium herbicide," respectively. Emily Merewitz was awarded 2nd place for her poster entitled, "Physiological responses of drought stressed creeping bentgrass transgenic for an Ipt gene controlling cytokinin synthesis" from the Turfgrass Breeders Committee. Jon Bokmeyer received 2nd place and Matt Koch took 3rd place honors for their oral pre sentations entitled, "Combiniability of brown patch resistance in tall fescue" and "Greenhouse screening of perennial ryegrass cultivars for salinity tolerance," respectively. In the Physiology and Ecology Session, YaXu was awarded 2nd place for her talk on the "Effects of plant growth regulators and biostimulants on summer bentgrass decline." (Photo, l to r: Rob Shortell, Jo Anne Crouch, Yan Jon Bokmeyer, John Inguagiato, Emily Merewitz, Patrick McCullough, and Matt Koch)

Donald Walker receives Best Graduate Student Poster Presentation at the Mycological Society of America's Annual Meeting - posted October 28, 2008
Donald Walker (Plant Biology graduate program) received an award for Best Graduate Student Poster Presentation at the Mycological So\ciety of America's Annual Meeting in State College, PA(August 2008). The title of his poster was "Assessing the Monophyly of Gnomoniopsis comari (Gnomoniaceae, Diaporthales)."

Best presentation at the Botany 2008 conference awarded to department undergraduate, graduate student and faculty advisor - posted October 2, 2008
During the Botany 2008 conference in Vancouver, Canada, Aug 26-31, recent Plant Science undergraduate Sarah Kelsey, Plant Biology graduate student Sasha Eisenman, and Lena Struwe (Plant Biology and Pathology) received the national annual award for best presentation in Historical Botany by the Botanical Society of America. The title of the poster is "The Establishment and Persistence of Plants Introduced to New Jersey by Solid Ballast on Ships" and an abstract is here.

Joel Flagler initiated a horticultural therapy program for the Bergen County Special Services School District - posted October 2, 2008
Joel Flagler initiated a horticultural therapy program for the Bergen County S pecial Services School District. The classes are held in a commercial-grade greenhouse made available by the Garfield Housing Authority. The participants, ages 14-21, are developmentally challenged. Each session focuses on specific skill sets (cognitive, social, etc.). The program serves as an approved internship option for School of Environmental and Biological Sciences undergraduates.

Emily won the first place award in the graduate student oral competition of the Northeast American Society for Horticultural Science - posted October 2, 2008
Emily Merewitz won the first place award in the graduate student oral competition of the Northeast American Society Hort Science for her presentation entitled "Identification of quantitative trait loci associated with drought tolerance of creeping bentgrass" at the Society's annual meeting, January 3-5.

Jim Murphy received the 2007 Recognition Award fro m the New Jersey Turfgrass Association - posted October 2, 2008
Jim Murphy received the 2007 Recognition Award from the New Jersey Turfgrass Association at the Green Industry Expo in December for his research and extension efforts in support of the turf industry in New Jersey.

Ari Novy was awarded second place at the Northeast Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science meeting for his presentation - posted October 2, 2008
Ari Novy (Landscape Architecture; Graduate Program in Plant Biology) was awarded second place at the recent Northeast Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science meeting for his paper with JeanMarie Hartman, Peter Smouse, Lena Struwe, C. Miller, W. Skaradek, and Stacy Bonos entitled "Can Population Genetics Studies of Spartina alterniflora (Smooth Cordgrass) Affect March Restoration Horticultural Practices?"

Dr. Hillman named a fellow of the American Phytopathological Society - posted October 2, 2008
Bradley Hillman was named a fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). Fellows are chosen for their significant contributions to the science of plant pathology. The formal award will be given this summer at the annual meeting of the APS in Minneapolis, MN.

Dr. Clarke receives the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Graduate School-New Br unswick - posted October 2, 2008
Bruce Clarke received the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award from the Graduate School-New Brunswick for "distinguished contributions to the understanding of turfgrass pathology and his commitment to education and public service." The award was presented earlier this month at the fifth Annual Distinguished Alumni/-ae Awards Reception and Dinner.

Patricia Alvarez-Loayza receives a Rutgers University Bevier Fellowship. - posted October 2, 2008
Patricia Alvarez-Loayza (graduate programs in Plant Biology and Pathology and Ecology and Evolution) was awarded a Rutgers University Bevier Fellowship for the 2008-2009 academic year. Her research is centered on understanding the roles of pathogenic and endophytic fungi in determining plant distribution and diversity in tropical forests. Alvarez-Loayza's unique research approach is a blend of the disciplines of plant pathology and community ecology. Her field research is conducted in the Manu National Forest of the Madre de Dios region of Peru.

Ann Gould elected to University Senate - posted October 2, 2008
Ann Gould (extension specialist, Plant Biology) and Mark Miller (Environmental Sciences) have been elected to represent the school on the University Senate for terms ending in 2011.

Dr. Raskin eleected toEuropean Academy of Sciences and Arts - posted October 2, 2008
Ilya Raskin was elected a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in March. The Academy hosts about 1,300 of Europe's top scientists and artists as members (among them 15 Nobel laureates), who approach issues facing Europe and the globe in various colloquia and publications.

Jo Anne Crouch receives many graduate student honors - posted October 2, 2008
Jo Anne Crouch was awarded the Rutgers Graduate School Research Award for 2007-2008. She will receive the award on April 24 at a ceremony at Zimmerli Museum. She was selected as the recipient of the Mycological Society of America (MSA) Memorial NAMA Graduate Fellowship ($2,000). The award will be presented at the MSA annual meeting at Penn State. She was also awarded the Gerald O. Mott Scholarship for Meritorious Graduate Students in Crop Science by the Crop Science Society of America. The honor is accompanied by a $2,500 honorarium. The award will be formally presented at the CSSA Awards Program at the ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting in Houston, TX, in early October.

Luis Mejia receives the Mycological Society of America Backus Award - posted October 2, 2008
Luis Mejia (graduate program in Plant Biology) was selected as the recipient of the Mycological Society of America Backus Award ($1,000) for graduate students. The award will be presented at the MSA annual mee ting at Penn State.

Luis Mejia and Tengbo Huang (graduate program in Plant Biology) were awarded the Spencer Davis Plant Biology Student Research Award for 2008.

Dr. Struwe named honorary research associate at The New York Botanical Garden - posted October 2, 2008
Lena Struwe (Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources) has been appointed as a honorary research associate at The New York Botanical Garden in recognition of her cl ose ties and productive research collaborations with the staff of their Institute of Systematic Botany.

Joe Florentine named chair of the Association of Education and Research Greenhouse Curators - posted October 2, 2008
Joseph V. Florentine (Greenhouse Operations and Planning) has been named the chair of the Association of Education and Research Greenhouse Curators (AERGC), an organization composed primarily of university, botanical ga rden, and industry greenhouse managers. The organization serves to bring together greenhouse management professionals from all over the globe by sharing information and resources through an annual meeting, quarterly newsletter, and email forum. Florentine will be serving as chair for two years.

Patent awarded to Dr. Vorsa - posted October 2, 2008
Nicholi Vorsa has received a patent award from the Research and Development Council of New J ersey for his most recent cranberry patent. The Office of Corporate Liaison and Technology Transfer nominated Vorsa for the award.