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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Plant Disease Grad Student Wins OARDC Krauss Award

April 29, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Alissa Kriss, a doctoral student in Ohio State University’s Department of Plant Pathology, yesterday (4/28) received the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC) William E. Krauss Director’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Research. The award honors the best published paper by an OARDC-supported doctoral student. 

Kriss wrote “Relationship Between Yearly Fluctuations in Fusarium Head Blight Intensity and Environmental Variables: A Window-Pane Analysis,” which appeared in the journal Phytopathology in August 2010. The article was selected as the issue’s editor’s pick and made the journal’s list of the most-read papers that month.

“Alissa is an outstanding graduate student and one of the future leaders in the science and profession of plant pathology,” one of her nominators wrote. “Her paper is a major contribution in plant disease epidemiology.”

Kriss’ research will help improve a national forecasting system for fusarium head blight on wheat, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture calls the most economically important crop disease of the past 60 years. In 2010, Ohio suffered its worst outbreak in 15 years.

The system predicts when conditions are right for an outbreak and helps wheat growers know the best time to apply fungicides.

“Results of Alissa’s research have suggested new predictor variables to incorporate into this forecast system, and our current upgrade of the system will attempt to incorporate her findings,” one of Kriss’ nominators wrote. “Therefore, the results of this paper will be transferred to stakeholders in a short period of time.”

Her findings “could ultimately contribute to improving the accuracy of head blight prediction models, and consequently, improve the management of this disease and its associated toxins,” another nominator wrote.

Kriss’ advisers are Laurence V. Madden, Distinguished Professor of Plant Protection, and Pierce Paul, assistant professor, both of the Department of Plant Pathology.

Kriss holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and secondary mathematics education from Indiana State University and before joining the Department of Plant Pathology worked for three years as a math teacher at Lowell (Ind.) Senior High School.

The award carries with it $1,000 and a framed copy of the published paper. OARDC Director Steve Slack presented the award during a ceremony at OARDC’s Annual Research Conference in Columbus.

OARDC scientists Steve Loerch (chair), Mike Ellis, Chang Won Lee, Peter Ling, Jeff Sharp and David Benfield (ex-officio) formed the selection committee.

Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro delivered the keynote address at the conference, which took place at Ohio State’s LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center.

OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and is the largest university agricultural bioscience research center in the United States.

Kurt Knebusch
Steve Slack