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K-State scientist to receive $1 million CAREER award
Date:4/30/2010

John Leslie, head of K-State's department of plant pathology. "Her pioneering interdisciplinary work merges entomology and plant pathology and will result in changes in the management of diseases caused by plant viruses."

"The project results are expected to contribute to our understanding of how some organisms can tolerate or fight off viral pathogens," Whitfield said. "These findings may lead to the development of strategies to prevent transmission of viruses and/or the identification of unique molecules to combat virus diseases."

Whitfield earned a bachelor's degree in biological science at the University of Georgia, a master's degree in plant pathology at the University of California-Davis, and a Ph.D. in plant pathology at the University of Wisconsin. She is an ancillary faculty member in K-State's Department of Entomology.

Because outreach is a key part of the project, Whitfield will pass the information she gleans from the research to the public by developing an interactive exhibit, "Arthropods as Vectors," for K-State's Insect Zoo.

She also will prepare new teaching tools for middle school science teachers that incorporate virology and virus-vector interactions. Those materials will be made available on the World Wide Web. In addition, she plans to mentor undergraduate students from under-represented groups as they conduct research projects studying the physiological outcomes of virus infection of arthropod vectors. A scientist-science fair participant "pen pal" program targeted to students in rural locations also is planned.

"She is an outstanding teacher, and her proposed interactions with middle school students will encourage them to think about and participate in agricultural research that also is cutting edge science," Leslie said. "The presence of scholars who excel in research while remaining in regular contact with students and the general populace is one of the plant pathology department's greatest stren
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Contact: Anna Whitfield
aewtospo@k-state.edu
785-532-3364
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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