Jessica Franco: DEBVBD Graduate Student Travel Award

Jessica Franco: DEBVBD Graduate Student Travel Award

Jessica Franco

Jessica Franco, a fourth year graduate student in Dr. Gitta Coaker’s lab, will be attending the International Research Conference on Huanglongbing (HLB) in Orlando, FL with support from the DEBVBD Graduate Student Travel Award. HLB is a devastating bacterial disease of citrus vectored by the Asian citrus psyllid. HLB researchers and citrus growers will attend the meeting and discuss concerns, methods, and findings to improve pathogen detection, vector control and disease resistance. Jessica will give an oral presentation focusing on her research on HLB.  Jessica has sampled a large number of Navels in both greenhouse and field experiments to identify dynamically changing citrus proteins in response to infection. She has identified secreted citrus proteases that are upregulated during infection. She has performed activity profiling and identified a subclass of these proteases whose activity may be inhibited by the HLB pathogen. This work has the potential to significantly enhance our understanding of how this pathogen manipulates citrus to cause HLB.

With the familiar Cavendish banana in danger, can science help it survive?

The banana is the world’s most popular fruit crop, with over 100 million metric tons produced annually in over 130 tropical and subtropical countries. Edible bananas are the result of a genetic accident in nature that created the seedless fruit we enjoy today. Virtually all the bananas sold across the Western world belong to the so-called Cavendish subgroup of the species and are genetically nearly identical. These bananas are sterile and dependent on propagation via cloning, either by using suckers and cuttings taken from the underground stem or through modern tissue culture.

The familiar bright yellow Cavendish banana is ubiquitous in supermarkets and fruit bowls, but it is in imminent danger. The vast worldwide monoculture of genetically identical plants leaves the Cavendish intensely vulnerable to disease outbreaks. Fungal diseases severely devastated the banana industry once in history and it could soon happen again if we do not resolve the cause of these problems. Plant scientists, including us, are working out the genetics of wild banana varieties and banana pathogens as we try to prevent a Cavendish crash.


Read more on The Conversation

2016-2017 Plant Pathology Graduate Student Awards

Congratulations to the following winners of this year’s Graduate Student Awards.  The awardees were selected by the department’s Publicity and Awards Committee based on evaluation of candidates’ statements and supporting letters from their major professors.


The James and Mary DeVay Travel Award goes to Betsy Alford


The Lyle Leach Memorial Travel Awards go to DongHyuk Lee and Furong Liu


Erna and Orville Thompson Travel Award goes to Li-Hung Chen


The Harley English-Edward Butler Travel Award (sponsored by Jesse and Gloria Dubin) goes to Jennifer Yuzon


The Irving Schneider Travel Awards go to Wenjie Qiao and Minor Maliano


In addition to the above awards, four one-quarter graduate student research assistantships were awarded.


The William J. Moller Scholarship goes to Peter Henry.


DongHyuk Lee received the Erna and Orville Thompson Scholarship.


Betsy Alford and Tyler Bourret received William Hewitt Scholarships.

Dr. Shahideh Nouri, received the 2015-2016 “Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Research” at the second annual “Postdoctoral Research Symposium”

Shahideh_Exc postdoc researchDr. Shahideh Nouri, a member of the Distinguished Professor Bryce W. Falk Lab, received the 2015-2016 “Award for Excellence in Postdoctoral Research” at the second annual “Postdoctoral Research Symposium,” held Wednesday, May 18 in the UC Davis Conference Center.

Dr. Nouri was a graduate from University of Wisconsin, where she conducted research on the Cucumber mosaic virus and studied its incidence in Wisconsin beans.

As an outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar for 3 years in the Falk lab, her current postdoctoral project is aimed at discovering and manipulating viruses infecting Diaphorina citri, the Asian citrus psyllid. Dr. Nouri’s innovative research approach utilizes high throughput sequencing (NGS) while combining bioinformatics to identify new viruses. Dr. Nouri’s enduring efforts resulted in the development of a new NGS library, sequence manipulation and bioinformatics analyses that her research field has not seen before.

Amongst her many accomplishments in her nomination, Dr. Nouri has recently published in the Journal of Virology (Diverse array of new viral sequences identified in worldwide populations of the Asian citrus psyllid (Diaphorina citri) using viral metagenomics;

Marta R. M. Lima from Dr. Walter D. Gubler lab, won a Best Poster Award


UC Davis Postdoc Marta R. M. Lima from Dr. Walter D. Gubler lab, won a Best Poster Award (in the value of $400) with the poster on “Change in Grapevine Xylem Sap Compounds induced by Simultaneous Water Stress and Fungal Pathogen Infection” at the second annual “Postdoctoral Research Symposium,” held Wednesday, May 18 in the UC Davis Conference Center.




Congratulations Marta for your hard work and innovation in research!

Bob Gilbertson Wins Oscar Lorenz Award

Dr. Robert Gilbertson was honored with the Oscar Lorenz Award in December, 2015. The award is presented annually by the UC Davis Plant Sciences Department in recognition for meritorious service to the California vegetable industry. Bob was recognized specifically for his “significant contributions to the understanding and control of vegetable crop diseases.”

Jared Nigg Joins NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Jared Nigg of the Falk lab received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship. Candidates were selected based on demonstrated potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. Recipients will receive a stipend award of support. Congrats, Jared!

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