Expert Details

Expert in Plant Pathology

Expert ID: 735125 South Africa

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Expert was trained as a mycologist, but her career steered her into the discipline of plant pathology. Throughout the 50+ agriculture research projects that Expert has conducted, she has accrued vast experience on the cultivation of a number of crops and the protection of these crops against plant diseases. Her research projects have encompassed both row and tree crops with components of the projects executed in the field, the orchard, the lab and even in front of the computer as a geographic modeler.

Expert has also studied fungicide application methodologies and methods of packing in order to support decay management in fresh produce. Her research outcomes have made valuable contributions to both the wheat and barley industry in South Africa, as well as the export fruit industry.

I supported the South African Government with the development of a comprehensive farmer support policy
I did technical consulting on the disease of wheat in the wheat production systems of Zambia
I presented a specialist talk to the SA fruit Export industry on the control of diseases of stone fruit
I presented a specialist talk at a training event for export fruit farmers on the impact of climate change on plant diseases and pests
I wrote several publications to national specialist agricultural publications on the topic of plant diseases
I supported the R&D department of a company that develops agricultural products in analyses and interpretation of the data
I acted as an expert witness
I conducted small research projects


Year Degree Subject Institution
Year: 2006 Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Subject: Environmental management Institution: Pretoria University
Year: 1999 Degree: Master of Science (cum laude) Subject: Microbiology Institution: University of the Free State
Year: 1997 Degree: Bachelor of Science Honours Subject: Microbiology Institution: University of the Free State
Year: 1996 Degree: Bachelor of Science Subject: Microbiology and Zoology Institution: University of the Free State

Work History

Years Employer Title Department Responsibilities
Years: 2018 to Present Employer: Undisclosed Title: Owner and Crop Health Consultant Department: Responsibilities: Expert's permanent position is Consultant at her eponymous consulting service, which offers the management of crop health to private clients. Specifically, her firm provides the following services:
- Science writing;
- Seminars and invited specialist speaking engagements;
- Training in plant disease identification and management;
- Training in best practices to prevent decay in fresh produce;
- Strategic technical consulting in the management of pre-harvest diseases of field crops;
- Strategic technical consulting in the management of decay in fresh produce;
- Consultation on agricultural research and development projects; and
- Participation in agricultural research and development projects.
Years: 2014 to 2018 Employer: ExperiCo (Agri Research Solutions Title: Specialist: Crop Protection Department: Responsibilities: At this division of an agricultural R&D firm, Expert's duties included securing project funding through the writing of research proposals to private and governmental funding institutions. The client base and nature of projects she managed would alter annually -- and, as such, Expert participated in a diversity of research projects, often on a wide variety of topics, and within different environments, e.g. the laboratory and in the commercial field. Her duties included experimental design, execution of research projects, data collation, data analyses, data interpretation and the writing of reports. As part of service excellence, Expert upheld good client relationships by delivering project feedback through well-written reports or oral presentations of high quality.

During this time, Expert conducted the following experimental work:

• Testing fungicidal and fungistatic properties of novel sanitiser and fungicide products with commercial potential in the laboratory - microbial survival screening techniques, mainly against fungi,
• Semi-commercial evaluation of the fungicidal properties of novel sanitiser and fungicidal products in an environment that simulates cold storage and supply chain in the fruit export industry,
• Evaluation of fungicidal properties of biological control agents and alternative control options against the decay of export fruit, including stone and pome fruit, in simulated commercial cold storage trials,
• Semi-commercial in vivo optimisation of fungicides for the control of postharvest decay in apples, pears and stone fruit during cold storage and
• Fungal ecology and infection cycle studies to elucidate pathogen lifestyle, to make recommendations for the best points of chemical control intervention both pre and post-harvest.
• Optimisation of product application methods for decay control in stone fruit
• Development of a product for the pre-harvest intervention of citrus black spot
• Survey of fungicide spray technologies used in the stone fruit packing houses in South Africa
• Evaluation of fungicide spray technologies used in stone fruit packing houses for the potential deposition of fungicide residue and efficacy in decay control.
Years: 2012 to 2014 Employer: ExperiCo (Agri Research Solutions) Title: Head: Crop Protection and Field Crops R&D Department: Responsibilities: Expert was appointed to the position of research manager at ExperiCo from May 2012 until September 2014. Her duties included writing project proposals to gain research funding for projects related to field crops. Tasks also included project management and execution, financial management, human resources management, and facilities management. Contributions were made to her own, as well her colleagues', projects as a collaborator, including experimental design, collation of data, statistical analyses of data, and writing of high-quality research reports.

As head of the department, Expert oversaw one researcher and technical staff members as assigned to different projects. This division was a new line of business for the company, and it was foreseen that it would expand over the years. In 2014 their company was sold to new owners, who had a greater interest in fruit than in field crops. Expert was re-designated to the role of Specialist: Crop Protection, with the primary duty of quality maintenance research on fruit destined for export.

Experimental work conducted:
• Pot trials on wheat and canola to test the effect of seed treatments and foliar nutritional products on the vegetative and reproductive growth,
• Field trials on wheat cultivar evaluation –yield and quality assessments,
• Field trials to evaluate foliar nutritional products on wheat –yield and quality assessments,
• Field evaluation of the environmental adaptability of a novel fodder crop to two different regions –yield and quality assessments,
• Testing fungicidal and fungistatic properties of novel sanitiser and fungicide products with commercial potential in the laboratory - microbial survival screening techniques, mainly against fungi,
• Semi-commercial in vivo optimisation of fungicides for the control of postharvest decay in grapes destined for export (SO2 sheets) and
• Evaluation of fungicidal properties of biological control agents and alternative control options against the decay of export fruit, including stone and pome fruit, in simulated commercial cold storage trials.
Years: 2009 to 2012 Employer: Agricultural Research Council: Small Grain Institute Title: Programme Manager Department: Crop Protection Division Responsibilities: As researcher, Expert's duties included the execution of numerous field pathology research projects on chemical control of fungal diseases of barley and wheat. As a programme manager, she oversaw the management of personnel, finances, technology transfer, infrastructure and facilities related to the projects in the division. She was also responsible for authorizing the experimental design and execution of projects. She also maintained an editorial role regarding scientific reporting of project outcomes to clients, ensuring quality and well-timed reporting throughout the division. She was also responsible for driving the dissemination of research results via popular and scientific publications, as well as through contributions to specialist topic related meetings like symposia, conferences and farmers' days. She is passionate about technology transfer -- the ultimate goal of agricultural research -- and has a high sense of urgency when it comes to the dissemination of quality research outcomes to parties to whom it could be of benefit.

In this role, Expert directly managed 20 staff members, of whom four were senior researchers with Ph.D degrees. The rest of the staff complement included three researchers with an M.Sc qualification and two researchers with an Honours degree. The remaining part of the group consisted of research technicians and technical assistants.

Expert served as research manager for the following plant pathology and entomology projects:

Plant pathology
1. Annual monitoring of stem rust, leaf rust and stripe rust occurrence in the wheat production areas of South Africa
2. Annual monitoring of Karnal Bunt, which is of phytosanitary concern, in the wheat production areas of South Africa
3. Development of bio-insecticides
4. Management of biotypic diversity of Russian wheat aphid, Diuraphis noxia in South Africa
5. Evaluation of wheat breeding material for resistance to Russian wheat aphid (Diuraphis noxia)
6. Seasonal occurrence of false bollworm Leucania loreyi in the Northern Cape irrigation areas
7. Development of aphid repellents to minimise virus transmission in irrigation areas of small grain production
8. Maintenance of the entomopathogenic nematode culture collection
9. Isolation and screening of entomopathogenic fungi for cereal aphid control
10. Biological control of bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, on wheat, using entomopathogens
11. In vitro culture of entomophthoralean fungi
12. Development of a control strategy for the leaf miner Agromyza ocularis, a significant pest of barley
13. Integrated pest management of selected insect pests of Rooibos, Aspalathus linearis, in South Africa
14. Entomopathogenic control of Eldana saccharina and white grubs in South African sugarcane
15. An investigation into the use of entomopathogens as control option against the sheep body louse, Bovicola ovis, in South Africa.
Weed Science
16. Optimization of herbicide efficacy and Investigation of herbicide resistance

During this time, as part of her duties as the Programme Manager of the Crop Protection Division, Expert also oversaw several short-term projects done on contract for industry, such as testing novel seed treatments for fungal disease control or herbicide adjuvant mixtures for optimal efficacy within the small grain production environment. Furthermore, she maintained high-level interaction with members of the South African grain industry, leader commercial farmers, and members of the agrochemical industry. She traveled often, and careful time management was required to execute tasks in time.
Years: 2008 to 2009 Employer: ARC-SGI Title: Senior Researcher Department: Plant Pathology Responsibilities: Among other duties, Expert conducted the following experimental work:

• Fungicide spray trials in the field to determine the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of fungicides for the control of fungal diseases of wheat and barley in the Western Cape region
• Survey of the prevalence and virulence of rust diseases of wheat in the Western Cape
• General small wheat and barley pathology projects ad hoc
Years: 2000 to 2001 Employer: University of Pretoria Title: Research assistant Department: Plant Pathology Responsibilities: • Managed administrative aspects of citrus post-harvest pathology program, and gave general research support to the students in the department
• Ran semi-commercial scale trials on the biological control of pos-tharvest diseases of citrus fruit in the pack-house in cooperation with Letaba Estates.
• Worked as a lab supervisor. Had responsibility for seven plant pathology laboratories including a general fungi lab, a general bacteria lab, and a fruit lab.
• Collaborated within South Africa and internationally on citrus, mango and avocado post-harvest pathology projects.

Career Accomplishments

Associations / Societies
Southern African Society of Plant Pathology (2000-present)
Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns (2009-present)
African Mycological Association (2009-present)
Awards / Recognition
The “Jeanie Borlaug Laube Women in Triticum” award for early career female researchers working on wheat made by the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI).
Full funding from the Monsanto Company to attend the BGRI Technical Workshop and the 8th International Wheat Conference in St Petersburg, Russia
Academic Colours of the University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
A "Young Plant Pathologist Award" from the Southern African Society of Plant Pathology and full funding to attend the conference of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology. Hartenbos Beach Resort, Mossel Bay, South Africa
Full funding from the International Society of Citriculture to attend the 10th International Citrus Congress, Agadir, Morocco
Split-Site Commonwealth Scholarship from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission of the United Kingdom. Tenancy at the University of Durham, August 2003- September 2004, under the guidance of Prof. Brian Huntley, Head of the School for Biological and Biomedical Sciences as part of PhD study on Citrus Black Spot.
A fully sponsored conference contribution at the first Young Scientist’s Global Change Conference held in Trieste, Italy to present a poster on the potential effects of climate change on the geographical distribution of Citrus Black Spot. Selected as one of eighty-two young scientists, chosen from a thousand global applicants.
A "Young Plant Pathologist Award" from the Southern African Society of Plant Pathology and full funding to attend the 40th Annual Congress, Brits, South Africa.
An academic bursary from the Ernst and Ethel Eriksen Trust, in financial support of post-graduate studies.
Academic bursary from the University of Pretoria (awarded based on academic merit).
The Andries Brink SASOL prize for the best MSc. Thesis in Microbiology at the University of the Free State in 1999. Thesis seated as second best in Faculty of Natural Sciences in 1999 with a mark of 82%
Academic Colours of the University of the Free State, South Africa
Full funding from Microscopy Society of Southern Africa to attend the 38th Annual Conference, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Academic bursary from the South African National Research Foundation to study a BSc. Honours in Microbiology
Publications and Patents Summary
Expert has 9 publications in peer-reviewed journals; 5 publications in peer-reviewed conference proceedings; 3 international conference contributions (papers); 5 international conference contributions (posters); 16 national conference contributions (papers); 4 national conference contributions (posters); and 55 additional talks and seminars other than conference contributions. She has 31 popular publications. She has earned agricultural industry recognition of her popular publications in 5 instances. She has written 53 unpublished industry reports; 4 contributions to technical guidebooks; and 4+ other general contributions to the agricultural industry (e.g., newspaper article features and oral and written contributions). She has given multiple radio or television interviews.

Additional Experience

Expert Witness Experience
Expert Witness in a court case where farmer's seeds were damaged by a product. I conducted a scientific study to test the likelihood of the product causing damage.
Training / Seminars
Expert has given 55 non-conference-contribution talks and seminars (voluntarily or upon invitation) at research or commercial institutions, and Universities in South Africa, Zambia and the UK, from 1998 to present.

Expert has presented a training workshop on the diseases of small grain crops, their management and control, on two occasions. She has also presented training to a varied group of interested parties, including agrochemical agents, producers of agrochemicals, representatives from the Department of Agriculture, and other interested parties. She has presented this same workshop to an in-house group of agrochemical agents at the company’s training facility as well.

Expert presented the first basic training event again in 2017 in two instances. As a follow-up, a workshop to participants who attended the basic workshop (presented in 2016), the second workshop on more advanced insight on small grain disease control was presented in Swellendam on 9 June and in Morreesburg on 14 June. In total, 80 participants participated in these workshops.
Other Relevant Experience
Expert's core competencies and skills include the analysis and interpretation of data; report writing; effective project management; current knowledge of the newest information and technologies in her fields of expertise; above-average computer literacy -- including an understanding of geographical information systems; extensive laboratory skills in microbial and plant evaluation laboratories; a national footprint in the small grain industry; proposal writing; manuscript editing; an understanding and knowledge of agrochemical application technologies; knowledge of agronomy and production practices in small grain production; plant disease diagnostics; and in-depth knowledge and skills pertaining to crop protection of various crops.

Throughout her career, Expert has built an extensive network of national and international contacts in the agricultural and scientific arena. She maintains strong relations with such contacts and collaborate with these industry experts when an opportunity arises. Her professional network includes important role players at the following institutions: University of Pretoria, University of the Free State, Stellenbosch University, The South African Agricultural Research Council, Westcape Biotech, several multinational agrochemical and fertilizer companies, agricultural service providers such as analytical labs, Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Furthermore, she mainains contact with a wide variety of role players in the fresh and export fruit industry of the Western Cape. Notably, she has interacted with technical managers of fruit pack stores, and industry research funding bodies (such as Hortgroscience).

Additionally, Expert has had significant interaction with prominent international agricultural institutions or initiatives. In field crop research this includes the International Center for the Improvement of Maize and wheat (Obregon, Mexico), the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (Administered from New York, USA), the GCIAR international agricultural research consortium (which represents 15 prominent global agricultural research centers. As part of her work as a member of the national and international expert panel on citrus black spot, Expert has interacted with The Directorate general of the European commission Plant health and Bio-safety, as well as with the European Food Safety Authority (representing the European Union). With regards to all global contributions to citrus black spot, Expert works in close collaboration with staff members of Citrus Research International, a South African company that focuses on research on citrus nationally and internationally.

Language Skills

Language Proficiency
Afrikaans Highly proficient

Fields of Expertise

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