ISU plant pathology graduate student earns trip to research conference

AMES, Iowa -- Katrina Duttweiler, an Iowa State University graduate student in plant pathology, has been selected to receive a free trip to the annual meeting of the American Phytopathological Society Foundation in Quebec City, Canada, July 29- Aug. 2. While there, she will present a poster on her research.

Duttweiler's research focuses on the fungi "sooty blotch and flyspeck on apple." It's a disease that causes dark blemishes to form on apple peels, making the fruit unappealing to the consumer. The infected fruit can still be sold for processing but decreases profits by up to 90 percent. Duttweiler's research focuses on discovering a way to identify the malady more quickly through molecular means.

She said the conference will allow her to compare notes with other researchers.

"Attending the meeting is an ideal opportunity to interact with others in the field, become updated with the current and upcoming work being done, and to present my research," said Duttweiler, one of 31 students from North America to receive the honor.

The conference is sponsored jointly by the American Phytopathological Society Foundation, the Canadian Phytopathological Society and Mycological Society of America. Phytopathology is the study of plants and plant health.

Duttweiler's research and presentation may make an impact at the conference, according to her faculty advisor Mark Gleason, professor and extension plant pathologist.

"Katie's research is likely to make a major breakthrough in the study of sooty blotch and flyspeck complex," said Gleason. "Research on sooty blotch and flyspeck has been discouraging because these fungi have been so difficult to identify."

Gleason said Duttweiler's identification method may help.

In addition to her flyspeck research, Duttweiler is researching other aspects of fungi, and her advisor says Duttweiler has what it takes to make a difference in the field of phytopathology.

"Along with first-rate research skills, she is also a gifted teacher," said Gleason. "She has the intellect, energy and personal skills to go as far in plant pathology as she wishes," he said.