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​2024 Fellow: Paul Vincelli​

Paul Vincelli was born in Long Branch, NJ, and received his B.S. degree (1981) in botany from Rutgers University, after serving for three years as a botanist in the United States Peace Corps in Colombia and Nicaragua. He received his M.S. degree (1983) in plant pathology from Rutgers University and completed his Ph.D. degree (1988) in plant pathology from Cornell University. He joined the University of Wyoming as an Extension plant pathologist in 1988 and then moved to the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Kentucky as an assistant Extension professor in 1990. He was promoted to associate professor in 1995 and to professor in 2001. He has served as a Provost's Distinguished Service Professor since 2007. In addition to his role as an Extension professor at the University of Kentucky, he also serves as the Southern-Region Scientist-at-Large for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program. 

Dr. Vincelli has had an exemplary career focused on Extension, teaching, and service. He has effortlessly balanced developing Extension programs focused on new or emerging issues at the intersections of plant pathology and public interest. In addition, he has tirelessly championed teaching and extending information to national and international audiences. Dr. Vincelli has led the way in writing highly cited papers on the role of plant pathology in topics such as molecular detection of pathogen species, climate change, pesticide use, genetically engineered crops, and sustainable agriculture. He excels in distilling complex information into digestible information for public audiences in the form of Extension publications, blog posts, and podcasts. Dr. Vincelli has never shied away from tackling important and often controversial scientific issues, and he presents information in a compelling and compassionate way that invites discussion and encourages the sharing of differing viewpoints. His communication style emphasizes listening to different viewpoints and identifying shared values to build connections between scientists and the public. This truly inspiring model of scientific communication is extremely effective in encouraging trust among various groups. 

Over Dr. Vincelli's long career at the University of Kentucky, he has focused primarily on applied research and Extension of corn, forage and turfgrass diseases, as well as emerging issues in plant pathology and global agriculture. He has contributed multiple research and Extension highlights in each commodity he has worked in, including optimizing fungicide applications for turfgrass and understanding fungicide resistance in turfgrass pathogens. His efforts in this area were recognized when he was voted Man of the Year by the Kentucky Turfgrass Association at the Kentucky Turfgrass Conference in 2002. He was also on the forefront of optimizing corn fungicide research and led a national effort to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from labeling fungicides specifically for plant physiological effects or “plant health" rather than disease control. He has written over 100 Extension publications and popular press articles, with several focused on climate change, genetically engineered crops, and fungicide resistance and has collaborated on publications describing the impact of agricultural fungicide use on human health. His overall goals of promoting sustainable disease management to Kentucky farmers have stayed constant throughout his career and have culminated in his important role as a SARE coordinator for the Southern Region of the United States. In this role, Dr. Vincelli focuses on improving implementation of agricultural sustainability and support for small, limited-resource, and/or minority farmers, organic agriculture, and other programs through hands-on training and in-person and virtual conferences, podcasts, and curricula development. 

Dr. Vincelli has regularly taught multiple courses at the University of Kentucky on important topics such as plant disease diagnosis, fungicide concepts, genetically engineered crops, plant diseases, and biotechnology. Moreover, he led the incredibly popular study abroad course on sustainable crop production and disease management in Nicaragua. He also developed a Real-time PCR for Applied Plant Pathologists Workshop that provided two days of intensive hands-on training and discussion with the goal of enabling attendees to perform real-time PCR in its various manifestations in their own laboratories. Over 200 attendees from various U.S. states, Mexico, Canada, countries in Central America and Africa, and Australia, received this training between 2005 and 2015. 

All the courses Dr. Vincelli has developed are student-focused, emphasizing hands-on learning and student involvement. He has won numerous teaching awards, including the Excellence in Teaching Award from APS in 2007, the University of Kentucky Provost's Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2011, and the Great Teacher Award from the University of Kentucky Alumni Association in 2011. He was one of the first faculty at the University of Kentucky to experiment with providing courses online or in virtual formats, well before the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently, in 2019, Dr. Vincelli blended his passion for communicating science with his love for teaching and was instrumental in the development of a new transdisciplinary, online M.S. curriculum at the University of Kentucky focused on science translation and outreach. 

Dr. Vincelli has been an APS member for over 40 years and has an impressive record of exemplary service to our society. He was councilor-at-large from 2015 to 2018, served on the Public Policy Board for two terms (2018–2024), was a senior editor for the APSnet Education Center and the Plant Health Instructor, and was an editor of various sections of Biological and Cultural Test for Control of Plant Diseases for almost a decade. Dr. Vincelli coordinated the APS Turf Working Group for two years, chaired multiple committees, co-organized multiple discussion sessions for APS Annual Meetings, and even co-moderated the DeBary Bowl. He also has authored multiple articles for Phytopathology News over the years. 

Dr. Vincelli is a passionate public scientist and plant pathologist who cares deeply about Extension, teaching, and service. He is universally admired for his outstanding contributions to sustainable disease management and has spent his career seeking out innovative and engaging methods to communicate science to all audiences. He is the type of plant pathologist many of us aspire to be. His contributions to both academia and society make him highly deserving of recognition as an APS Fellow.