OARDC Plant Pathologist Honored for International Service

September 3, 2002

WOOSTER, Ohio – Sally Miller, a plant pathologist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), is a one-of-a-kind global fighter. For almost a decade now, she has been cruising the world in search of pests to kill and vegetables to save. This year, Miller’s commitment to improving pest management techniques in nations such as Bangladesh, the Philippines and Ukraine earned her the American Phytopathological Society (APS) 2002 International Service Award. APS is an international scientific organization devoted to the study of plant diseases and their control. "It means a lot to me to be recognized by my peers," Miller said. "I’m very glad that they have decided to honor researchers working overseas, especially in developing countries." The award ceremony took place July 28 in Milwaukee, during the society’s annual meeting. Steven Slack, OARDC director and immediate past president of APS, was in charge of the award presentation. "Sally truly deserves this award," Slack said. "She is committed to solving disease problems that threaten food supplies in developing countries and has real empathy for the plight of the people affected. Her ability to focus on the problem at hand and to organize people’s efforts productively have made a significant difference in multiple countries." Miller was born in Canton, Ohio. She received a B.S. in biology from Ohio State University (OSU) in 1976, and M.S. (1979) and Ph.D. (1982) degrees in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A professor and researcher with OARDC since 1991, Miller is well known as a pioneer in the development of detection kits for plant pathogens. She is also a leader in the study and management of vegetable crop diseases, especially those of tomatoes and peppers as well as vegetables grown in muck soils. Her recent research has focused on biological control of diseases and induced resistance mediated by organic matter amendments. In 1994, Miller joined the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program (IPM-CRSP), an initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). She became the principal plant pathologist for the IPM-CRSP site in the Philippines and has also served as the site’s chair since 1998. Under Miller’s direction, the IPM-CRSP project in the Philippines has developed strategies to reduce the effects of the root-knot nematode on onion production. Project scientists are also combining host resistance and grafting technology to manage the bacterial wilt disease of eggplant at the small farm level. Miller also interacts with scientists at the International Rice Research Institute, the Philippines Rice Research Institute, the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center, and the University of the Philippines at Los Baños to develop IPM methods for diseases of vegetables grown in rotation with rice. In 2000, Miller and her colleagues were able to obtain a $1.3 million grant from the Philippine government to extend their work to other vegetable crops and other regions in the Asian archipelago. Also in 2000, Miller joined the IPM-CRSP site in Bangladesh as principal plant pathologist, providing leadership in the development of IPM approaches to manage the bacterial wilt of eggplant and tomato, the late blight of tomato and potato, and soil-borne diseases of eggplant and cucumber. As the Philippines site chair, Miller is a member of the IPM-CRSP’s Technical Committee, which is comprised of project leaders from around the world. As part of that committee, she has played a major role in setting the direction of the global effort on pest management programs in many developing countries. While working in Asia, Miller expanded her international service to Eastern Europe by becoming a participant in the Pest and Pesticide Management Program, a USAID-sponsored farmer training effort in D'nepropetrovsk, Ukraine. From 1997-1999, Miller and OARDC colleague Pat Lipps worked with Ukrainian scientists to upgrade laboratory facilities and develop field and laboratory research projects on wheat and tomato disease management. For her contributions, Miller was named Honorary Professor of the D’nepropetrovsk State Agricultural University, becoming the first American woman to receive such an honor. Miller’s contributions to the world of disease management also talke place at OARDC. She has hosted three Philippine scientists for training in her laboratory and routinely assists plant pathology graduate students in their institutions abroad. OARDC is the research arm of OSU’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Author(s): 
Mauricio Espinoza
Source(s): 
Sally Miller