The plant pathology career of the 2012 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for the Potomac Division of the American Phytopathological Society began in the Potomac Division, where the recipient received the Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology from the University of Delaware in 1981. Following graduation, the recipient then moved to Virginia Tech and began studies on virulence factors from the plant pathogenic bacterium Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora. In 1985, during graduate studies, the award recipient won the graduate student research award from the Potomac Division. (That means the 2012 Distinguished Service Award is the second major award the recipient has received from the Potomac Division!) After receiving the doctorate degree in Plant Pathology at Virginia Tech, the recipient moved to the University of Georgia for two years to conduct post-doctoral research on the role of extracellular plant cell wall degrading enzymes produced by Ralstonia solanacearum. The recipient then took a position as a post-doctoral research microbiologist with USDA-ARS, Biocontrol of Plant Diseases Laboratory, in Beltsville, MD. In recognition of the outstanding scientific contributions of the award recipient, the USDA-ARS subsequently hired our recipient as a permanent employee.
The recipient’s research is wide-ranging, and is directed at understanding molecular plant microbe and microbe-microbe interactions in the plant rhizosphere. The recipient uses chemical and biochemical approaches to study the relationship and associations of plant beneficial bacteria and root systems of plants. The recipient is interested in the molecular basis of suppression of soilborne plant pathogens by beneficial bacteria and the development of methods to improve the delivery of plant beneficial bacteria to the rhizosphere. Research in the lab of the recipient focuses on determining how soil environmental conditions and disease management tactics such as cover crops and pesticides impact the performance of microbial biological agents. Additional research is on the integration of microbial biological control agents into multitactic disease management strategies. The award recipient is the lead scientist on the methyl bromide replacement project, and participates in the Weed Biological Control Project where he is developing bacterial bioherbicides for weeds. The award recipient has authored or coauthored over ninety journal articles, research reports or proceedings.
The recipient serves on the graduate faculty at the University of Maryland and holds an adjunct professor appointment at Virginia Tech, contributing expertise as a member of graduate student committees. It is of interest to note that although the expertise that our recipient is contributing involves molecular aspects of the interaction between beneficial bacteria and plants, there are rumors at Virginia Tech that the recipient has been “persuaded” to leave the lab bench and venture into the field with the ‘clod-kickers’, to sample the roots of wheat growing in a suppressive soil.
In addition to scientific collaborations that span several states, the award recipient is acting research leader for the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab, at the Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.
In addition to the numerous contributions to our understanding of plant-beneficial bacteria interactions with roots and fungal plant pathogens, the 2012 recipient of the Potomac Division Distinguished Service Award has a long and active record of service to our division. The recipient first served as Secretary/Treasurer in the 2003-2004 cycle, and continued on in that role until 2006. At that time the recipient became the Potomac Division Vice President and presided over the 2008 Potomac Division meeting as president. Although the Distinguished Service award recipient may have thought they could retire from service to our division, the awardee was called back to service in 2011, when elected to represent our Potomac division on the newly formed Division Forum (DF). In his capacity on the DF he is working on implementing the DF engagement plan and on issues related to review of division abstracts
In recognition of his outstanding contributions throughout his career to plant pathology and outstanding service to the Potomac Division of APS, I am pleased to announce that Daniel P. Roberts has been selected to receive the 2012 APS Potomac Division Distinguished Service Award.