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Research Agency Announces Top Scientists for 2004

By Alfredo Flores
February 9, 2005

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9—Plant physiologist Timothy R. Gottwald of Fort Pierce, Fla., has been named by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) as the agency's "Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of 2004." ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Gottwald and seven other outstanding senior ARS scientists will be recognized at an awards ceremony today at the Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building here. Each winner will receive a plaque, a cash award and additional research funding.

Gottwald, who works at the ARS Subtropical Plant Pathology Research Unit in Fort Pierce, is being honored for exemplary scientific leadership in developing principles of epidemiology that served as the basis for controlling or eradicating serious foreign and domestic plant diseases, in particular citrus canker, plum pox, citrus tristeza and pecan scab. Since joining ARS in 1979, Gottwald has published 172 articles and book chapters and 123 abstracts, and has made more than 200 research presentations at national and international scientific and industry conferences.

Gottwald and his colleagues conducted epidemiology research that served as the scientific and operational basis for the Citrus Canker Eradication Program in Florida. The program was established to curb the spread of citrus canker in both commercial and residential citrus trees in the state. The team's research showed that the previous practice of removing all citrus trees growing within a 125-foot radius around canker-infected trees was inadequate to curtail the infection's spread. In January 2000, based on the group's research findings, this distance was increased to 1,900 feet to better protect Florida's multibillion-dollar citrus industry.

ARS is also honoring seven "Area Senior Research Scientists of 2004." They are:

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  • Pacific West Area -- Raymond I. Carruthers, ARS Exotic and Invasive Weeds Research Unit, Albany, Calif., for establishing the first successful consortium for the control of saltcedar; leading projects to manage saltcedar, yellow starthistle and giant reed; and conducting groundbreaking research in the areas of integrated pest management and biological control of invasive pests.

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ARS also will present awards to eight "Early Career Scientists of the Year" who have earned their doctorates within the past decade and have been with the agency for seven years or less. The highest of these honors is the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist of the Year.

The 2004 Rothbart Award winner is Edward S. Buckler, a plant geneticist at the agency's U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory in Ithaca, N.Y. He is being honored for pioneering genetic approaches that let researchers identify individual genes that control complex agronomic traits in plants. This could help breeders develop improved agricultural crops.


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The seven other ARS Area Early Career Scientists for 2004 being honored today are:

  • Beltsville Area -- Yan Zhao, ARS Molecular Plant Pathology Unit, Beltsville, Md., for exceptional advances in research on viroids, virus-based gene vectors, plant transformation and spiroplasma and phytoplasma genomics.

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Charlene Jackson
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