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Future Plant Pathologists Recognized at International Science and Engineering Fair

Marie A. C. Langham,
South Dakota State University

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) welcomed 1,444 high school students to Phoenix, AZ during May 8-14, 2005. The students were the finalists from local competitions and represented 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 40 countries from around the world. The American Phytopathological Society (APS), a sponsor of the event, awarded four prizes for achievement in plant pathology. Judith Brown, Ali Idris, and Elizabeth Pierson from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona, Tucson interviewed and selected the winners. APS prize winners for 2005 included:

  • Daniel Abraham Blumenthal—Daniel, a junior at Jones College Preparatory High School (Chicago, IL), was awarded first prize and $1,000 for his project, “Pseudomonas syringae pv. Tomato DC3000 Effectors’ Effects on Plant Cells: Hypersensitive Response or Disease.” Daniel worked in the laboratory of Jean T. Greenberg in order to express several P. syringae vir genes in tobacco using Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. He also silenced (inactivated) specific genes in four of the plant’s resistance pathways using virus-induced gene silencing to determine the effect of silencing on the plants’ response to each vir gene. Daniel’s work demonstrated some of the basic mechanisms involved in resistance.

  • Kyle James Yawn—A freshman at Warner Robins High School (Warner Robins, GA), Kyle was awarded the $700 second prize for his project, “ In Search of a Natural Treatment for Puccinia hemerocallidis.” P. hermeocallidis is a recently introduced rust disease that is of great concern to those who breed or grow daylilies. Initiating a study on this new disease problem demonstrated an understanding of the impact introduced diseases have on plant systems.

  • Nahid Aftab Shaikh—Nahid was awarded the $500 third prize for her work on “Effects of Wounding on the Introduction of Agrobacterium tumefaciens.” She performed some of the research in this project in the laboratory of Steven C. Winans. Nahid is a senior at the Lawrence High School in Cedarhurst, NY, and she has been interested in scientific research since the sixth grade.

  • Cheong Ha Park and Su Bin Min—Park and Min are seniors at Chonnam Science High School in Naju, South Korea. They received the fourth prize ($100 each) for their project, “Study on the Bio-control of Pear-Scab by Using the Soil-Fungi.” Over 70 isolations were characterized and tested for biological control activity against pear scab, and a beautiful microscopic image of each isolate was presented in the project.

The ISEF provided a remarkable opportunity for all of the students involved in the program whether they competed only in the local competitions or became finalists who attended the ISEF in Phoenix. Congratulations and good luck to all students, judges, teachers, mentors, coaches, and parents!!! It’s time to start looking forward to next year’s ISEF in Indianapolis, Indiana. For more information about the ISEF, try Intel Innovation in Education ( or Intel International Science Fair at Science Service (

Post-harvest diseases not only affect the marketability of harvested grains, legumes, or produce, but they can also affect the quality and safety of products made from them. Click image for an enlarged view and more information.